Candidate list sets cat among pigeons in Tripura Congress

Last Updated: Sun, Jan 13, 2013 10:30 hrs

Agartala, Jan 13 (IANS) Hours after the AICC announced the names of Congress candidates for the Feb 14 assembly elections in Tripura, local leaders and workers in as many as 11 places in the state openly revolted, demanding change in nominations.

In some places, the Congress workers even burnt down or damaged party offices in protest.

All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary Oscar Fernandes in New Delhi Saturday night declared the nomination of 48 Congress candidates for the state's 60-member assembly, keeping one pending and allocating eleven seats to its long-time political ally Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT), a party with a tribal base.

"We, the block Congress leaders of Charilam (in western Tripura), would resign en masse from our respective posts if royal scion 'Maharaj' Pradyot Bikram Kishore Debbarma is not given the party ticket, replacing Himani Debbarma," Charilam block Congress president Amal Debnath told reporters.

Over one thousand party workers, led by local leaders from Charilam, Sunday met state Congress president Sudip Roy Barman here and communicated their decision to Barman and the AICC.

Agitated Congress workers burnt down the party office at Boxanagar demanding change of the official candidate Billal Mian, a former minister, and nomination of Tofajjal Hossain, a senior party leader.

Reports of the violent protests by party men and internal feuds over selection of Congress candidates have been received from Chandipur in northern Tripura, Charilam, Kamalasagar, Pratapgarh, Khowai, Teliamura, Golaghati, Takarjala in western Tripura and Hrishamukh and Amarpur assembly segments in southern Tripura.

The state's main opposition Congress seemed to be in disarray over the selection of party nominees for the polls.

A large number of Congress workers last week laid siege to Congress Bhavan, the party's headquarters in the state capital Agartala, to press for the nomination of Jawahar Saha, Ratan Chakraborty, Biva Nath and Billal Mia -- all former Congress ministers.

They also demanded nomination of former legislators and senior Congress leaders, such as Kajal Das, Dilip Muhuri, Bikash Das and Jahir Ali.

In view of the demands of party workers, the AICC nominated Ratan Chakraborty, Billal Mian and Kajal Das for next month's polls in Left-ruled Tripura.

"In many places, Congress workers have locked party offices to protest against the selection of party candidates for the ensuing polls," senior Congress leader Tapas Dey said.

"It would has been wise (of the party leadership) if the people who have lost polls in the state more than two times did not get party tickets," Dey said.

Of the 48 Congress candidates, four are women and nine are tribals.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has also announced candidates for 26 seats, has urged the Election Commission of India (ECI) to defer the Feb 14 assembly polls in Tripura in view of Saraswati Puja Feb 15, a popular puja among Hindu students.

State BJP president Sudhindra Dasgupta in a fax message to the ECI said: "Lakhs of students would be upset if they do not perform the traditional Saraswati Puja. Hence, the polls must be deferred by a few days."

Tripura, the country's lone Left-ruled state, is set for polling Feb 14.

Two other northeastern states, Meghalaya and Nagaland, will have polling Feb 23.

Results of all three states' assembly polls will be announced Feb 28, Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath said in New Delhi Friday.

The assemblies in Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland have 60 seats each. The five-year terms of these assemblies expire March 10, March 16 and March 26, respectively.

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