Tripura : A full-fledged state of the union

The conferment of the full-fledged statehood on Tripura brought to fruition the long-cherished political aspirations of the state's people. Amidst all-round jubilation election to the state assembly came off on March 11 1972 and ,as expected, Congress party headed by Sukhamay Sengupta emerged clear winners ,securing 41 of the 60 assembly seats-the CPI (M ) won 18 seats while CPI captured one seat only . Apparently all was well as Sukhamay Sengupta kept ruling the state with his typical administrative high-handedness. However, dark cloud was gathering in the distant horizon with TUJS carrying on a virulent campaign for ADC, evoking 'equal and opposite reaction' from the 'Amra Bangali', and appendage of the shady 'Ananda Marg' which set in motion a rival campaign to forestall setting up of district council. The CPI (M) started gaining in strength mainly by organizing government employees through its powerful front organization 'Tripura Employees Co-ordination Committee' (TECC) to which the government responded by coercive measures. Mr Sengupta suffered a major setback in 1974 when Congress lost the election to the lone Rajya Sabha seat because of dissension within the party. With the imposition of emergency the state government became oppressive indiscriminately dismissing employees , arresting people and unleashing police on many an innocent citizen. Apart from prominent leaders of CPI (M) like Mr Nirpen Chakraborty, Mr Dasharath Deb a number of Congressmen like Mr Samir Ranjan Barman and Mr Tapas De, Editor of the largest-circulated and pro-people local daily 'Dainik Sambad', Mr Bhupen Datta-Bhowmik were put behind bars.

The withdrawal of emergency by Ms Indira Gandhi was followed by Lok Sabha election on March 16 1977. Rent by internal dissension ruling Congress in Tripura was in a poor shape ; so was the CPI (M) because of persecution of the party's workers and supporters during emergency and the late release of leaders from jail left the Marxists with hardly any time to prepare for the polls. The old warhorse Mr Sachindra Lal Singha descended on Tripura afresh as Lok Sabha candidate for newly-formed Congress for Democracy (CFD) and won the polls from west Tripura seat by a narrow margin ,defeating congress candidate Mr Tarit Mohan Dasgupta . In the tribal reserve East Tripura Loksabha seat Maharaja Kirit Bikram contesting on Congress ticket edged out CPI (M) leader Dasharath Deb in a keen contest.