Tripura Polls: Wind Of Change Versus Manik Sarkar's Image

The BJP has run a high-pitched campaign against the Left Front government to unseat Mr Sarkar whose coalition had won 50 out of the 60 seats in the 2013 assembly polls including 19 out of the 20 seats reserved for tribals.

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Manik Sarkar has been elected Tripura chief minister for fourth time in a row. (File photo)

Agartala:  In Tripura, the ruling Left Front's campaign strategy rests on one face: Chief Minister Manik Sarkar. For years, the four-time chief minister's clean image had been enough to see his party through. This time, Mr Sarkar's most ardent supporters concede he has a fight on his hands.

The BJP has run a high-pitched campaign against the Left Front government to unseat Mr Sarkar whose coalition had won 50 out of the 60 seats in the 2013 assembly polls including 19 out of the 20 seats reserved for tribals. The BJP has all of six lawmakers in the state assembly; all of them had switched over from Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress a few months back. 

"He is extremely popular. Since 1998 when he became chief minister, he has tried to improve the lives of the tribals" said Surest Debbarma, a CPM supporter from Takarjala, a tribal hamlet.

His clean image may be the key to Left continuity, but even his comrades agree the upcoming elections would be a difficult race.

"The fight is bit different than earlier, so we have also changed our strategy" said Subhash Deb Nath, another CPM supporter.

Mr Sarkar has been BJP's solo target for an alleged job scam, unemployment and blurred lines between the party and government.

"Manik sarkar is no more the chief minister he used to be in 1998 when he became CM. He has forgotten his dream and he does not consider issues of people any more" BJP MLA Sudip Roy Burman told NDTV.

Some others in the opposition don't have any doubts about Mr Sarkar's honesty but claim his government is tainted.

"As a human being he is honest, but as a CM he is presiding over a corrupt government," said Tripura Congress Vice President Tapas De.

Comments
BJP's poll war cry of for Tripura polls has been 'Chalo Paltai' or 'let's bring change'. Perhaps what now stands between continuity and change is the image of CPM's poster boy Manik Sarkar. 

The Tripura polls are slated to be held on February 18 this year the counting for which would take place on March 3.  
 

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