Tripura’s ruling allies Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) are set to contest against each other in the bye-elections in the three-tier panchayats on September 30.
BJP panchayat election committee chairman and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ratan Lal Nath announced the first list of 3,155 candidates for the bye-elections on Thursday evening. Among them, a total of 2,980 candidates would contest in gram panchayats seats, 157 in panchayat samiti seats and the remaining 18 candidates would contest for zilla parishad.
BJP’s first list of candidates comprises of 1,998 women while the candidates for rest of the seats would be announced shortly, Nath told indianexpress.com.
Earlier on September 1, the State Election Commissioner G. Kameswara Rao announced the by-elections in 3,207 gram panchayat seats, 161 panchayat samiti seats and 18 seats of zilla parishad. The seats had fallen vacant since a large number of representatives had resigned after the BJP-IPFT government had assumed office in the state in March this year.
Reacting to BJP’s candidate list, the ruling ally IPFT on Friday said it would stage candidates “in as many seats as possible” for the panchayat by-elections and contest against BJP.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, IPFT general secretary Mangal Debbarma said on Friday morning that his party hasn’t struck an alliance with the BJP for the Panchayat by-polls and will contest “separately”. “They (BJP) didn’t advise us anything about an alliance for panchayats by-polls. So, we were forced to decide to contest alone. They (BJP) discussed with our president NC Debbarma yesterday before announcing the first list of candidates yesterday. But we are contesting separately and shall field candidates against each other”, Mangal said.
The IPFT leader feels that both the allies have taken a “well-considered decision” by contesting against each other. Earlier this year, the BJP and IPFT previously announced to contest against separately in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The decision came after BJP Tripura in-charge Sunil Deodhar announced that his party would contest alone in Lok Sabha polls.
On the decision, BJP spokesperson Mrinal Kanti Deb said, “BJP’s alliance with IPFT was centering assembly election and to form a state government in Tripura. Lok Sabha election is a different issue…It will not affect the alliance or our poll prospects if we contest separately”.
Replying to a similar question on panchayats by-elections, minister Ratan Lal Nath said his party was contesting the by-elections alone since it wanted to “test its strength”. “We have spoken with IPFT on this. BJP wants to check its strength alone”, Nath said.
Meanwhile, the opposition Congress said that it would contest in all the seats of three-tier panchayats which would go to by-polls on September 30. CPI (M) said it would try to contest in “as many seats as possible”.
CPI (M)-led Left Front, which ruled Tripura for 25 years since 1993, was reduced from 51 seats to 16 seats in the sixty-member state Assembly in February assembly elections this year. BJP, which earlier had no members in the House, managed to form a government with 44 seats in alliance with the IPFT. Congress had three members in the Assembly before the polls; the party was reduced to zero members in the House.