Agartala, Jan. 15: In a blow to the Congress's prospects in 20 tribal reserve constituencies, the National Conference of Tripura (NCT) which has considerable influence among the tribal electorate in Sadar and Khowai sub-divisions, has decided to contest 11 seats following lack of response from the Congress over a seat-sharing deal.
NCT general secretary and former MLA Animesh Debbarma said despite their keenness for a grand anti-Left alliance, the Congress leadership had never engaged in any meeting or discussion with the party. "We were waiting for a discussion and we would have been happy with only two seats in Khowai sub-division where we have built up a strong base but the Congress leadership showed no interest. There were media reports that one seat was being considered for us but subsequently that also disappeared," he said.
Debbarma said if the Congress thought NCT's support was not needed and INPT which "has absolutely no base anywhere deserves 11 seats," his party has no objection.
"We are putting up 11 candidates to begin with but talks are on to contest more seats. Our candidates are Arun Debbarma (Agartala-6), Mrityunjay Debbarma (Takarjala), Ritesh Debbarma (Golaghati), Animesh Debbarma (Ramchandra ghat), Bikash Debbarma (Khowai), Rajesh Kr Debbarma (Asharambari), Sarajait Debbarma (Kalyanpur-Pramodnagar), Kripajay Reang (Krishnapur), Sanjay Jamatya (Bagma) and Lakumar Reang (Ampinagar) and Mandai Bazar, where our candidate will be announced soon," said Debbarma.
He also deplored the "deliberate failure" of the Congress to form a grand alliance against the Left. "This time the situation was ideal for an anti-Left alliance and a proper political fight but the Congress has failed to utilise the opportunity. Ajay Biswas who has been fighting for workers' rights for many years has not been offered a seat," Debbarma said.
The high drama regarding the Congress's list of candidates for the Tripura Assembly elections intensified today with Youth Congress activist Baptu Chakraborty suddenly replacing veteran party leader Ratan Chakraborty as the candidate from Khayerpur constituency.
Ratan Chakraborty got the news from AICC general secretary Luizinho Falerio just after addressing a meeting in his constituency.
Opposition leader Ratanlal Nath backed Falerio.
Earlier, Ratan Chakraborty's candidature from Khayerpur constituency had been finalised by the party's central election committee (CEC). "I will not comment at this stage. Falerio informed me that he had to do it to accommodate the Youth Congress. This is a repetition of what happened to me in 1998," he said.