— Purushuttam Roy Barman
The prevailing situation in Tripura since the results of the last Assembly elections reminds one of the Emergency days. The last Assembly election was no ordinary election: the months preceding February 2018 saw a calibrated and well-synchronized effort by the BJP to wrest Tripura. BJP’s victory was certainly the victory of money and propaganda power. It is also to be admitted that many mistakes and deviations of the CPI(M)-led Government made it easier for the BJP to achieve victory.
Since the BJP’s victory, there has been an unrelenting attack on all political opposition in Tripura. The CPI (ML) organized a rally on 5th May on the occasion of Karl Marx’s birth bi-centenary in Udaipur, South Tripura. The rally was attacked by RSS- BJP hooligans. The CPI (ML) office in Udaipur was ransacked by the hooligans on 3rd March, the day the Assembly election results were out. RSS- BJP hooligans bulldozed the statue of Lenin in Belonia; and vandalized statues of Marx and Che Guevera. The name of Marx-Engels street has been changed. The BJP Government is bent on all-out saffronisation of the state.
Party offices of CPI(M) and Congress are being pulled down by bulldozers throughout the State: on the pretext of retrieving khas land on which the party allegedly stand. There is a specific law to deal with unauthorised occupants of public premises – that legal provision is being bypassed. Many party offices have been standing on khas land for few decades. Those offices could have been authorised by making allotments of khas land. Under the TLR & LR Act, 1960, there is provision for allotment of khas land. After BJP-IPFT combine came to power many offices of CPI(M) and various mass organisations were forcibly captured by BJP and IPFT cadres. Many Trade Union Offices were also captured, ransacked and vandalised. Instead of taking action against these vandals and criminals, the Government has started Operation Bulldozer to bulldoze political opposition in the State. Opposition parties are not permitted to work, their workers are regularly attacked, their supporters are terrorised.
And while opposition parties and mass organisations are prevented from raising issues and holding the Government accountable, development and welfare activities are being eroded and disrupted by the Government. MNREGA has been put on hold as a consequence of forced reassignment of many elected members to the Panchayat and Village Development Committees. The purchasing power of the common people has been reduced to a considerable extent due to virtual non-existence of MNREGA work and wages. In the hill areas, people are starving and migration of people to neighbouring Bangladesh in search of work and food has been reported in local newspapers. The market is going through a slump.
The people of Tripura will fight back, however, and challenge this attempt to smother and stifle democracy in the State.