Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Posted at: Feb 12, 2018, 1:18 AM; last updated: Feb 12, 2018, 1:18 AM (IST)

No longer in the shadows

Sandeep Dikshit

OF the three northeastern states going to the polls, the influence of intelligence agencies and the security forces is the least in Tripura. Almost everyone votes in Tripura - over 90 per cent - putting in shade even the ultra politically conscious Kerala.

Unlike West Bengal, where power fell in the CPI-(M)'s lap, the comrades had to fight hard in Tripura. During the testosterone fuelled days of the Rajiv Gandhi era, strong armed methods had swung Tripura the Congress way. But that was the grand old party's last hurrah here.

In this election, Tripura will be a swing state for national politics. Besides the Hindutva laboratory working overtime, especially in areas bordering Bangladesh, a grand alliance of the Left and the Congress will depend on the Tripura elections.

The path will smoothen for a Left-Congress pact for 2019 if the CPI (M) fares poorly. For, it will mean a blow to the former party general secretary Prakash Karat's 'Ekla Chalo' approach.

The game, as they say, is open. The vote difference between the Congress and the Left front last time was three lakh votes. As many as 28 seats were won by margins of two to five per cent, most of them by CPI (M).

Most heavyweight Congress leaders are now with the BJP. Can this old wine in a new bottle in Tripura replicate the same copy-paste formula that paid dividends to the BJP in other northeastern states - Arunachal, Assam and Manipur? The last word of course is with the people: will they feel obliged to continue with the clean but unimaginative comrades or risk the excitement of PM Modi's HIRA (highway, I-way, roadway and airway).  

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