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After Tripura civic polls, Left, TMC now both claim to be the ‘main Opposition’

CPI(M) state secretary Jitendra Chaudhury alleged that though the TMC claims it is the main Opposition, the Bengal-based party has actually come to Tripura at to "divide Opposition votes and make way for the saffron party".

Written by Debraj Deb | Agartala |
Updated: November 29, 2021 10:38:04 pm
Voters wait in queue in front of a polling center at Melaghar municipal council. (Express Photo/file)

A day after Tripura civic poll results were announced, CPI(M) state secretary Jitendra Chaudhury said on Monday that his party retained the second-largest vote share after the BJP and is the main Opposition in the state, contrary to claims made by the Trinamool Congress (TMC).

Speaking to indianexpress.com, Chaudhury said the CPI(M) has retained the second-highest vote share all over the state despite widespread rigging, violence, booth capturing and attacks on Left supporters. “Where did they (TMC) get this data from? Election Commission statistics say CPI(M) is the second-largest party,” he said.

Chaudhury also alleged that though the TMC claims it is the main Opposition, the Bengal-based party has actually come to Tripura at the “behest of the BJP to divide Opposition votes and make way for the saffron party”.

His statement comes soon after data provided by the State Election Commission (SEC) on Monday suggested that though the TMC grabbed the second-highest vote share in the Agartala Municipal Corporation (AMC) leaving the CPI(M) behind, the Mamata Banerjee-led party actually got 16.39 per cent votes against the CPI(M)’s 18.13 per cent across 14 civic bodies where polls were held.

Allies of the CPI(M), the Communist Party of India (CPI), the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and the Forward Bloc got 0.76 per cent, 0.44 per cent and 0.32 per cent vote share, respectively.

When contacted, Tripura Trinamool Youth Congress convener Baptu Chakraborty told The Indian Express that his party contested 120 seats across different civic bodies and secured “24 percent votes”. “TMC didn’t contest in all the seats. We contested in 120 seats and secured 24 percent votes. Had we contested from all seats, we would have got 100 percent votes,” Chakraborty said.

The BJP, which swept the civic polls, secured 59.01 per cent vote share and emerged victorious in 99 per cent of the 222 seats across 14 civic bodies that went to the polls. The party also won 112 seats without contest.

As per the data, the BJP secured 2,38,962 votes across all polled urban bodies, the TMC secured 66,388 votes while the CPI(M) secured 73,402 votes. The CPI got 3,089 votes, the RSP got 1,790 votes and the Forward Bloc received 1,305 votes. The Congress received 8,364 votes, 681 votes went to “others” and 3,990 votes went in favour of different independent candidates. A whopping 6,983 votes were cast for ‘NOTA’ in all these urban bodies out of 3,97,971 valid votes cast in the election process.

Both the CPI(M) and the TMC were vocal about alleged violence by BJP supporters in the run up to the polls. While the former alleged BJP workers threw out its candidates and polling agents from several polling centres, assaulted Left leaders and supporters, the TMC claimed that 10 of its candidates in the Agartala Municipal Corporation could not cast their own votes.

However, after the results were announced on Sunday, West Bengal TMC leader Rajib Bhattacharjee claimed that democracy was being “murdered” in Tripura and added that despite attacks on his party, the TMC emerged as the “main Opposition”.

“Despite so much rigging, booths being looted, violence, false voting and attacks on our supporters, the results show that the TMC could not be entirely stopped. The BJP did scientific rigging during the polls. Despite that, Trinamool got 24 per cent of the votes on an average across all the urban bodies. The TMC received the second-highest number of votes,” he said.

Bhattacharjee’s comments are in stark contrast to the SEC figures released on Monday which show that the TMC got 20.14 per cent votes in Agartala, higher than the CPI(M)’s 16.03 per cent but got an average of 16.39 per cent votes across the state.

The Congress got 2.07 per cent votes, 0.17 per cent vote share was secured by “others” and independent candidates grabbed 0.99 per cent votes.

Chaudhury’s reactions were soon followed by a press briefing of Tripura Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ratan Lal Nath, who questioned the TMC’s claim of being the second-largest party and said, “Where is the record? Votes are calculated across the state. They have got a bit more votes in some seats and very low in others. Why don’t they say that they got 0.72 per cent in Kailashahar Municipal Council?” he quipped.

The minister rubbished allegations of poll violence in Tripura and said elections were held in a “festive mood” in the state.

Nath said that the TMC, Congress and the CPI(M) would come together before the 2023 Tripura assembly polls but claimed even if all opposition parties come together, they would not be anywhere near the BJP in the results.

“We are not at all concerned. We shall try to win 60 out of 60 seats (in 2023). We tried before (in 2018), got 44. We shall try again. We know the CPI(M), Trinamool and Congress will come together. Even then, they will not get any benefits. All the parties are nowhere near the BJP…” he said.

Tripura TMC convener Subal Bhowmik was not available for his comments.

When asked if he denies the state election commission’s report which shows 16.39 percent average vote share for TMC, the TMC youth leader declined to comment and said the party’s performance can’t be measured on seats, where it didn’t contest.

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