Political inertia and change

Agartala, Feb. 7: Landing in the last Communist bastion of the country in the run-up to Assembly elections brings a sense of d�j� vu for someone from Bengal. The splashes of red, the buntings and party flags with the "comrades" playing the poll bugle are tell-tale signs that the Left regime is not about to taste any dose of paribartan soon.

The man at the helm, chief minister Manik Sarkar, led the CPM to a stunning victory in 2008, the Left Front securing 49 of the 60 seats. The CPM's tally was 46, with the 64-year-old Sarkar then being sworn in for the third consecutive time. The Opposition Congress, which bagged all the four seats in the state capital (Ramnagar, Town Baradwali, Banamalipur and Agartala) is swearing by "change" though.

"Bam Front Paribartan" announces the huge hoarding at Congress Bhawan in the heart of the city. The Trinamul Congress in the state has, in tacit support to the Congress, desisted from fielding any candidate in these elections, despite its initial bravado of unseating the Left from power. Driving along the streets here, one notices the neat array of party flags along the kerb ' the Congress, CPM, Forward Bloc, BJP and INPT ' fluttering in amicable companionship.

The street-corner meetings are devoid of vitriolic rhetoric: the Left candidates are speaking of freedom from insurgency, peace and development, while the Congress is clamouring for change. "The Left has departed from West Bengal and Kerala. Now it is our turn," is the common refrain.

Given that the party could muster only 10 seats in the last Assembly elections, it would be a tall task for them to do a Mamata Banerjee.

Rajib Chakraborty, a local resident who has voted in the last three elections, said the Manik Sarkar government "has ensured better roads, streetlights, peaceful law and order situation. It is safe to walk on our streets even at midnight," he claimed.

The bevy of security forces seen patrolling the streets is indicative of any poll-bound state. Sharing a 856km-long border with Bangladesh and thereby apprehending infiltration of disruptive forces, the state has requisitioned the services of CRPF, CISF, Tripura State Rifles and forces from Assam, Gujarat and Punjab. Also evident are jeeps carrying election observers. It is because of their hawk-eyed scrutiny that no hoarding (except a few Congress ones) is taller than three feet, in keeping with the Election Commission directive. It is quite another matter that the jeep of an "expenditure observer" was parked outside the Tripura state emporium Purbasha on Tuesday evening, with the observer opening his expense account by splurging on northeastern textiles.

On the flight to this capital city, a veteran co-passenger recounted that the airport sports two runways heading in opposite directions. One ensures take-off into Bangladeshi air space. The other enables the pilot to detour over India and take the much longer route in times of conflict. Thank god for peace with this eastern neighbour, for it affords a shorter, direct flight between the capitals of West Bengal and Tripura.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Bowling worries for Super Kings

Bowling worries for Super Kings

After failing to defend a mammoth 205 against Kings XI Punjab, Chennai have a lot to think about. More »

Punjab pull off another big chase

Punjab pull off another big chase

GAME 7, SHARJAH—Maxwell, Miller, Pujara chase down Rajasthan's 192. More »

T20 test for Cheteshwar Pujara

T20 test for Cheteshwar Pujara

The class act from Saurashtra may have to rethink his approach to the mannerless format. More »

BCCI reputation lowest in 80 years: Manohar

BCCI reputation lowest in 80 years: Manohar

The former BCCI president says he was "disillusioned" by the happenings at the emergent working committee meeting on Sunday. More »

Special meeting to replace Srinivasan

Special meeting to replace Srinivasan

The BCCI is likely to convene a special general body meeting (SGM) in May to replace N Srinivasan on the board's disciplinary committee. More »

Shastri in proposed IPL probe panel

Shastri in proposed IPL probe panel

Some members stressed on the need for proposing names with an "impeccable record and clean image". More »

Roach escapes injury after car crash

Roach escapes injury after car crash

The West Indies fast bowler lost control of his BMW sedan due to slippery road conditions in his native Barbados on Saturday. More »

Repose faith in Indian coaches

Repose faith in Indian coaches

All of them cost plenty of dollars which I feel is unnecessary for a two- month tournament, says former cricketer Yajurvindra Singh. More »

Cook relieved after period in limbo

Cook relieved after period in limbo

The England captain is looking forward to a fresh start after a dispiriting Ashes defeat last year. More »

Panel can help clean mess: Raghavan

Panel can help clean mess: Raghavan

The former CBI Director is one of the three candidates proposed by the BCCI to head the enquiry into the IPL betting and spot-fixing scandal. More »

[INTERVIEW] Jayawardene and Sangakkara

[INTERVIEW] Jayawardene and Sangakkara

Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara go over their World T20 win, and feel grateful to have fans whose support remains unwavering in victory and de… More »

Need to improve fielding: Ashwin

Need to improve fielding: Ashwin

[T20 Newsline] Lacklustre Super Kings, fast-improving Sanju Samson and other news from IPL-7. More »

Aussie coach joins emerging Afghanistan

Aussie coach joins emerging Afghanistan

Peter Anderson has started work in Kabul as the fast-developing team prepare for their debut at next year's World Cup. More »

Chaos threatens to engulf SL again

Chaos threatens to engulf SL again

As Lanka's head coach decides to jump ship, euphoria over winning an ICC tournament has dissipated into fuistration. More »

Jayasuriya unhappy at Farbrace conduct

Jayasuriya unhappy at Farbrace conduct

Sri Lanka's chief selector is upset at news of head coach Paul Farbrace's possible move to England. More »

Have nothing to prove to anybody — Sehwag

Have nothing to prove to anybody — Sehwag

The Nawab of Najafgarh says a good run in IPL could help his chances of a comeback on India's tour to England in June. More »

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Furious fifties by Duminy and Dinesh Karthik end a long losing streak for the Daredevils. More »

Five things England must do to bounce back

Five things England must do to bounce back

England have appointed a new head coach in Peter Moores. More »

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

Royal Challengers overcame a stutter to cruise to the small target they were set by Mumbai Indians. More »

‘Felt like helpless minority’

‘Felt like helpless minority’

Former BCCI treasurer Ajay Shirke says emotions got the better of Srinivasan and he tried to oversimplify things by calling Meiyappan an “enthusiast.” More »

Royal test for Kings

Royal test for Kings

Preview — Clash of philosophies between Australia-centric teams More »

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

Kevin Pietersen's hopes of reviving his international career appeared to end Saturday when ECB managing director Paul Downton said there was 'no way back'… More »

The world record that nearly wasn't

The world record that nearly wasn't

Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it. More »

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

His status as president of TNCA makes him eligible to attend the Working Committee meeting on Sunday. More »