Chief Minister Manik Saha is contesting from 8-Bordowali assembly constituency of West Tripura district

Agartala: Campaigning for the June 23 by-elections to four assembly seats in Tripura began on a low key but has gradually gained momentum with candidates holding rallies, taking out processions and making door-to-door visits to seek votes.

Chief Minister Manik Saha, who is contesting assembly elections for the first time, is meeting voters at Town Bordowali constituency, while his rival and three-time MLA from the seat Asish Saha is also conducting door-to-door campaigning.

Saha and Sudip Roy Barman have recently quit the BJP and joined the Congress.

Roy Barman, who is contesting from Agartala, was the health minister in the BJP government but was dropped from the cabinet for “anti-party activities”. He had been the MLA of the state capital from 1998 till his resignation in February this year.

Barman has coined a new slogan, “Atharote bhul, ar noy padma phool” (there was a mistake in 2018, now no more lotus).

The BJP came to power in the state for the first time in 2018 after defeating the Left Front. Assembly elections to the 60-member House in the northeastern state are likely to be held early next year.

His rival Ashok Sinha of the BJP is also conducting door-to-door campaigning, taking out processions and addressing people in rallies.

In Surma and Jubarajnagar constituencies, CPI(M) candidates Anjan Das and Shailendra Nath have also chosen household visits as the preferred form of campaigning.

In the last 42 years, the CPI(M) has lost these two constituencies only once Jubarajnagar in 1988 and Surma in 2018.

Trinamool Congress, which has no electoral presence in the state, is also contesting all the four seats and its candidates have started campaigning.

AITC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee will arrive in Agartala on June 14 to participate in the party’s campaign, the party’s state unit in-charge Rajib Banerjee said.

“Abhishek Banerjee will take part in a roadshow in support of party candidates in Agartala and Town Bordowali seats,” he said.

“The roadshow will cover some areas of the two constituencies. After completing the one-day visit to Tripura, he will leave for Meghalaya,” TMC state president Subal Bhowmik said.

He said some state ministers and MPs from West Bengal are likely to join the party’s campaigning for the by-polls but their tour schedule has not been finalised yet.

The former MLA, however, expressed unhappiness over the role of the state’s election machinery.

“We have lodged several complaints with the chief electoral officer of Tripura but no action has been taken against those who are destroying TMC flags, festoons and threatening the voters,” he said.

The party had polled 24 per cent vote share in the recent elections to Agartala Municipal Corporation (AMC).

Opposition Congress has released a “charge-sheet” against BJP, accusing the ruling party of not fulfilling its promises made ahead of the 2018 assembly elections.

“We are appealing to the people’s court to judge the BJP-led government for breach of trust. We are taking the by-polls as a big challenge,” Tripura Pradesh Congress Committee president Birajit Sinha said.

By-elections to the four seats will be held on June 23 and votes will be counted on June 26.

By-polls to Town Bordowali and Agartala were necessitated after BJP Roy Barman and Saha quit the party and the membership of the Assembly to join the Congress.

Surma was vacated by Ashish Das as he joined the TMC only to later quit the camp, while death of sitting MLA Ramendra Chandra Debnath necessitated by-election to Jubrajnagar.

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