Agartala: Come elections and it seems most experts focus on the battle between parties; and in Tripura, that would mean analysing Congress vs BJP, CPIM vs TIPRA Motha etc. But one family seems to have understood electoral battles far better than others: no matter which party emerges at the top, the family of late BJP MLA Dilip Sarkar will be in power.

Sarkar, an ex-Congressman, joined the BJP before the 2018 assembly elections from Trinamool Congress under the leadership of Sudip Roy Barman. His constituency Badarghat (in the peripheries of Agartala city) fell vacant as the five-time MLA passed away due to age-related ailments in 2019, paving the way for teacher-turned-politician Mimi Majumder to get elected from the constituency.

But the influence of Sarkar among the local public was so strong that Majumder could not make her place in the last four years and eventually she was dropped by the BJP. The saffron party instead chose the deceased MLA’s sister, Minarani Sarkar, an elected corporator of Agartala Municipal Corporation from Badharghat.

Minarani Sarkar will contest the upcoming polls from Badharghat constituency on a BJP ticket

The ‘allure’ and the legacy of Sarkar did not escape other political parties. The Left and the Congress, in their attempts to encash the emotional connection of people with Sarkar, nominated candidates from the same family. Sarkar’s elder brother Rajkumar Sarkar is contesting the elections on a Congress ticket, while Partha Ranjan Sarkar, the nephew of the late MLA, is the All India Forward Bloc’s candidate from the constituency.

However, chances are very high that either Partha Ranjan Sarkar or Rajkumar Sarkar will withdraw their nomination if the negotiations between the Left and Congress take a final shape. But, what it looks like now: this family has taken the centre stage of politics in the Badharghat constituency.

When contacted, Congress nominee Raj Kumar Sarkar said, “There is nothing personal. The fight is between two symbols, not persons. People of the area will decide whether I deserve the post or not.”

Asked about the other candidates in the fray, Sarkar said, “Being the elder brother of Dilip Sarkar, who served the people of the state for years, people respect me from the core of their hearts. I feel people will vote in my favour to carry forward my brother’s legacy.”

Rajkumar Sarkar will contest on a Congress ticket

His sister and BJP contestant Minarani Sarkar, on the other hand, seemed confident of victory with a thumping majority. “I don’t see any opponent in the field. Those who are fighting elections from other parties will struggle to save their deposits on March 2. They will be defeated so conclusively that they will think twice before contesting elections ever again in life,” she said.

The BJP leader, however, refused to take any questions on the family front.

The youngest of all three major party candidates Partha Ranjan Sarkar, an advocate by profession, started his political career with Congress and even rose to the post of Pradesh Congress Committee member. However, to everyone’s surprise, he was nominated by the All India Forward Bloc for the next elections.

Speaking on the issue, he said, “This is democracy. We have instances of even 10 people contesting elections from the same family. What is wrong? People have the liberty to participate in the democratic exercise.”

Partha Ranjan Sarkar is the All India Forward Bloc’s candidate from the Badharghat constituency

When asked why he left Congress, he said, “We want to give the message that the seat sharing between Congress and Left parties is not superficial. The way we are leaving seats for the Left, the Left parties are also allowing people from other parties to contest polls.”

Constituency voters who remained loyal to Sarkar’s family are also now confused. Ajay Debnath, a resident of Badarghat’s Camperbazar area said, “We could sense that Mimi Majumder will be dropped and someone from Sarkar’s family will take over from the end of BJP, but now all the candidates are from the same family. For years, Sarkar helped the people of his constituency in whichever way. Even after his death, people remember him with respect. And, the political parties want that respect to be translated into votes.”

Sukanta Chowdhury, a resident of the Beltali area of Badharghat also echoed the same and said, “BJP has very thin chances of winning the elections performed former MLA Mimi Majumder. This is why Dilip Sarkar’s name is being dragged into the elections to sway voters playing the emotional card.”

Come March 2, it is now clear that Sarkar’s family will celebrate. The question is, which party will join in the celebrations? 

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