Union minister Pratima Bhowmik locked in tough triangular contest in Dhanpur assembly constituency

By Our Correspondent

Agartala, February 7, 2023

Nestled in a sprawling landscape marked by undulating uplands and lush valleys in almost an obscure seclusion of the state, the quiet Dhanpur assembly constituency bordering Bangladesh is all set to witness a tough triangular contest. An impregnable bastion of the CPI (M) over the past five decades , Dhanpur constituency begins from Nalchhar area of Sonamura subdivision and extends up to Rajnagar and Hrishyamukh seats in Belonia subdivision with the border with Bangladesh protruding in between. This constituency, currently having 50,200 voters comprising 11 thousand tribals spread over 10 ADC villages and 14 thousand Muslims had been politically nursed so well by the late CPI (M) stalwart and former minister Samar Chowdhury from the sixties that the CPI (M) candidates have always won handsomely from there. While Samar Chowdhury had won the constituency uninterruptedly from 1972 to 1993, the former chief minister Manik Sarkar had won consistently from 1998 to 2018.

Since Manik Sarkar has opted out of contest this time , the CPI (M) has nominated a popular and young party worker Kaushik Chanda (34) from this constituency against the union minister of state for social justice and fellow-local Pratima Bhowmik. But the tipping point is the candidature of Amiya Noatia from the ‘Tipra Motha’. While the question of victory or defeat is still open in the raging contest, the BJP candidate and union minister of state Pratima Bhowmik is hopeful of breaking the ice in Dhanpur for the first time. However, the hurdles in Pratima’s way lies in the form of candidature of Amiya Noatia of ‘Tipra Motha’ who is likely to take away the substantial number of tribal votes, leaving a small percentage for the CPI (M) candidate Kaushik Chanda in the backdrop of old loyalties. Besides, 14 thousand Muslim votes, traditional support base of CPI (M), may also pose a problem because of the traditional minority antipathy towards the BJP.

Pratima however exudes confidence that she will sail through with Muslim support and the larger chunk of Hindu votes in the constituency. “During our tenure in power we have never discriminated against the minorities , they have got all the benefits directly through bank accounts from the central government and there is no religious tension in Dhanpur ; why should they not vote for us?” Pratima asked . She also claimed to be evoking spontaneous response from voters of all sections and is also confident of winning the Dhanpur seat this time. But the CPI (M) candidate Kaushik Chanda is equally confident of victory from the constituency on the basis of the party’s traditional support base among the minority Muslims and a sizable section of tribal voters.

“It is quite obvious that ‘Tipra Motha’ will take away a sizable section of tribal votes but enough will come to CPI (M) to ensure my victory, the minority Muslims are already with us” said Kaushik. The ‘Tipra Motha’ candidate Amiya Noatia could not be contacted for response but what still remains a reference point in Dhanpur is the cold-blooded murder of a minority youth in the year 2021. This killing still rankles and is likely to influence the voting pattern of the minorities. Former chief minister Manik Sarkar also addressed an election rally in Kathalia bazar area of the constituency on February 4 to boost the chances of the CPI(M) candidate and he had reasons to be happy over the size of attendance.

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