An object of ridicule

Agartala, Feb. 1: Political parties here have developed a new form of mudslinging ' deriding each other's manifestos.

This became more than evident when PCC president Sudip Roy Barman dubbed the CPM-led Left front manifesto "dull and lacklustre" and CPM secretary and central committee member Bijan Dhar described the Congress's version a "document of deception".

The Left manifesto started facing Opposition flak since January 19, the day it was released. The 32-page document harped on the Left government's past achievements and promised positive action in sectors ranging from transport and communication to an improved lifestyle. It, however, dealt a blow to the aspirations of nearly 1.63 lakh government employees by linking upgrade of pay and allowances to improvement in the state's resource position.

The 26-page Congress manifesto, on the other hand, promised "reasonable" unemployment doles for the state's 6 lakh registered unemployed and a laptop each to all students who secured first division in the Tripura Board of Secondary Education's higher secondary examination. Government, PSU and autonomous body employees were promised a bonanza in the form of central pay scales and allowances in accordance with the 6th Central Pay Commission recommendations. The clincher, however, was the commitment to provide 7kg rice to the poorest of the poor free of cost every month and 35kg rice to "other poor sections of people" every month at Re 1 per kg.

The PCC president said all the commitments made in their manifesto, which was released on January 27, would be fulfilled shortly after the Congress formed the government. "The CPM is scared, and this is the reason why they are condemning our manifesto. They should know that we have a national-level manifesto committee headed by defence minister A.K. Antony and our manifesto has been cleared by the committee and top leaders," Barman said.

Dhar told reporters at the press club here after Congress released its manifesto: "These are promises which can never be fulfilled. Where will the resources come from? Actually, the Congress knows it will never come to power and that is why it is trying to lead the people up the garden path."

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