Incidents of political violence have increased in the run-up to the elections to the Agartala Municipal Corporation and 12 other municipal bodies
Days ahead of municipal body elections in Tripura, two rebel MLAs of the ruling BJP in the State on November 23 alleged that the recent political violence in Tripura has tarnished the reputation of the party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi which might influence the saffron party’s poll prospects in the assembly elections in five States.
The MLAs, Sudip Roy Burman and Asish Saha, told a press conference here that the country’s apex court, Tripura High Court, and even Union Home Minister Amit Shah had to intervene in the recent political violence ahead of the civic polls.
A Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader from West Bengal was arrested before being later released on bail on November 22, while TMC workers were roughed up by ‘unknown assailants’.
On November 11, the top court had directed the Tripura government to ensure that no political party including TMC in the fray for local body polls of the State, is prevented from pursuing electoral rights in accordance with law and from campaigning in a peaceful and orderly manner.
It had issued notice to the State government on the plea by TMC and its Rajya Sabha MP Sushmita Dev seeking security for the party workers and representatives alleging wide-scale violence against them.
A delegation of TMC MPs had met Union Home Minister Amit Shah on November 22 alleging police violence in Tripura.
The legislators who were sitting on a dharna outside the Ministry of Home Affairs since the morning of November 22 were given an appointment to meet Mr. Shah in the afternoon.
“We told him in detail how leaders were being arrested and MPs being beaten up. He told us that he had spoken to the Tripura CM on phone yesterday and assured us that he would a report from the state,” party MP Kalyan Banerjee had said.
“As the recent violence would harm the interest of the party, we have informed all these matters to party’s national president J.P. Nadda, national general secretary [Organisation] B.L. Santhosh, and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday,” Mr. Burman said.
In an oblique reference to Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb as a “paratrooper leader”, they held him responsible for ‘all ills’.
“Our mantra is ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’, but the paratrooper leader did not cooperate with all. Common people are our main force in a democratic state.”
“We do not understand why there is so much violence to win the civic body elections? If the BJP had done so much development during its 44 months tenure, then why so much violence to win the elections?” they asked. Mr. Burman, a former Health Minister of the State who was dropped from the cabinet for alleged ‘anti-party’ activity before the last Lok Sabha elections, said that earlier many chief ministers were at the helm, but the incumbent chief minister is an “exception”, who does not follow any ‘political grammar’.
“Our Chief Minister, who is also the Home Minister of the State, has not given any statement regarding the recent series of political violence. Police worked as silent spectators. The criminals from opposition CPI-M, who entered the party were used for narrow political ends”, the duo said.
Mr. Burman has also recently written to the Director General of Police, V.S. Yadav to declare some areas as vulnerable and provide adequate security for the peaceful conduct of elections.
Upbeat over its impressive performance in the West Bengal Assembly polls, the TMC had announced that it would expand its footprint and enter national politics ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
The party had been trying to gain its foothold in Tripura, where State elections are scheduled to be held in the first half of 2023.
Incidents of political violence have increased in the run-up to the elections to the Agartala Municipal Corporation and 12 other municipal bodies.
TMC youth leader Saayoni Ghosh, who was arrested on charges of criminal intimidation and attempt to murder, was on November 22 granted bail by the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate in West Tripura district.
Ghosh was told to furnish a bail bond of ₹20,000.
The West Bengal Trinamool Youth Congress president was on November 21 arrested on charges of criminal intimidation, attempt to murder, and promotion of disharmony between groups after she raised the party’s ‘khela hobe’ (game to be played).
The TMC leadership claimed several party activists came under attack when they had gathered outside the police station, where Ms. Ghosh was taken to after arrest.
In August, a group of five MLAs, including Mr. Burman, Mr. Saha, Burbamohan Tripura, Dibachandra Hrankhawl, and Asish Das organised a meeting to put forward some suggestions to the party’s central leadership for ‘rectification of the party’.
Later many central leaders, including party’s North East Zonal Secretary (Organisation), Ajay Jamwal had rushed to Tripura to review the situation.
BJP MLA Asish Das, who is close to Burman, had on October 31 joined the Trinamool Congress by taking the party flag from AITC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee at a public meeting here.
A highly placed source in the BJP said, “The rebel MLAs including Mr. Burman, Mr. Saha, and others are keeping a close link with TMC and they are working to harm the political prospect of our party”.