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Posted on Feb 07, 07:37PM | IANS
By Sujit Chakraborty, Agartala, Feb 7 : Saying that Communism has not lost its relevance, Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar has asserted that the Left Front is supremely confident of returning to power for a seventh time.
Indian Communist parties, he said, would soon overcome the dip in their electoral fortunes.
"People who say that Left parties have lost their relevance or significance nationally have a strong fear of us," the 64-year-old CPI-M veteran told IANS.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) lost power in West Bengal after ruling it for 34 long years in 2011. It was also voted out, although narrowly, in Kerala around the same time.
"Forces within and outside the country do not want a strong Left in India or a Left-supported central government," Sarkar said. "That's why they have been trying to destabilise the Left strongholds."
Sarkar, who has completed 15 years as Tripura's chief minister, said his government could boast of "outstanding performance on all fronts".
And so, he said, the Left would be returned to power for a seventh time, "with more votes and seats".
Sarkar argued that although Tripura was a small state, electing only two members to the Lok Sabha, the outcome of the Feb 14 election would impact on national politics.
Former chief minister Nripen Chakraborty, the father figure of the Communist movement in Tripura, led the first CPI-M government in the state from Jan 5, 1978.
Since then, except for one stint (1988-93) when the Congress took power, the state has been a Left citadel.
He accused the Congress, the main opposition party, of ganging up with "terrorists" -- his euphemism for Congress ally Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT) -- to fight the elections.
According to him, the INPT is the "overground force of terrorists". The INPT denies the charge.
The chief minister also accused the Congress-led central government of bias vis-a-vis the Tripura government. "Why such prejudice, we don't know."
At the same time, he credited Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with appreciating the role of the Tripura government in curbing separatism in the border state. Tripura borders Bangladesh.
Claiming that his government had made great economic strides, he said "thousands of Congress members including leaders have abandoned it and are joining hands with the Left Front".
He appealed to other Congress members to think of the future.
Sarkar said the Congress had stolen the Trinamool slogan of "paribartan" (change) -- a slogan which clicked in West Bengal -- but it had failed to woo the electorate in Tripura.
He blamed the central government for price rise, corruption and economic slowdown and farmer suicides.
"Our main priority has always been the eradication of poverty and upgrading the standard of living of the people. This will always top our list of priorities."