After having stayed away from the campaign trail in Tripura, Congress president Rahul Gandhi will be in the state on Friday, the last day of campaigning for the assembly elections on February 18, to address one or two rallies. The late arrival is being seen by many in the party as a token effort. Sources in the state Congress unit said “star power” was missing from the party’s campaign this time. This is in stark contrast to the BJP’s campaign where the party is leaving no stone unturned to dislodge the CPM-led Left government from power.
BJP president Amit Shah alleged Monday that the Congress is not seriously campaigning in Tripura to help the CPM. The Congress has fielded candidates in 59 of Tripura’s 60 seats, but the party is hopeful in only “six to eight seats”, sources said. The internal assessment of the party, they said, is that the Left will manage to retain power, but the BJP will increase its vote share and possibly win seats. A senior Congress leader said the party should have waged a spirited battle.
The Congress, sources said, is hopeful in half-a-dozen seats, like the ones contested by state party president Birajit Sinha and Congress Legislature Party leader Gopal Roy. This apart, the party is hopeful in Ramnagar, Bordowali, Badharghat and Bishalgarh seats, sources said. Rahul is scheduled to attend a rally in Kailashahar and the party’s local leadership is trying to squeeze in the second meeting in Agartala city. Senior Congress leaders have started arriving for campaigning only in the past few days. Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy, AICC general secretary C P Joshi, former Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan and former Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat campaigned in Tripura this week, while UP Congress chief Raj Babbar is expected to campaign this week.
In contrast, Rahul has already spent four days in Karnataka, which goes to polls in April. He had also campaigned extensively in Gujarat while undertaking only a symbolic campaign in Himachal Pradesh, where the party was seen as having poor prospects — and fared poorly — in the last assembly election.