folk and modern songs, street plays, rhymes, poems and colourful
decorations using small trees were the highlights in the run-up to
the Feb 14 assembly elections in Tripura.
"It's a tradition in Tripura. Patriotic, folk and modern songs,
street plays, rhymes and poems being used as a vital campaign
module in the electoral battles," political analyst Sekhar Datta
Both the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the
main opposition Congress have organised poll campaigns using
colourfully decorated vehicles draped with party flags and
Vehicles with loudspeakers have been playing songs and electoral
promises in localities to woo the electorates.
Tripura Sanskriti Samannay Kendra, the literary and cultural front
of the CPI-M, composed modern and folk songs criticising the
Congress' failure across the country and its alliance with the
tribal-based Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT).
In contrast, the Congress is trying to pursue voters using old
patriotic songs of Lata Mangeshkar and other renowned singers.
Animatronics in local television channels criticising rival
political parties' is a new feature in this election in Tripura,
where one third of the 3.7 million population comprises tribals.
"Our campaign with the versatile cultural performance has largely
impacted the minds of the people and we have won the hearts of
voters by using cultural presentations," said state Information
and Cultural Minister Anil Sarkar.
Sarkar, who is also a poet and writer, is seeking re-election to
the assembly as a CPI(M) nominee from Pratapgarh constituency,
reserved for the scheduled caste, in west Tripura for a record
The 75-year-old teacher-turned politician has composed several
folk songs and rhymes to connect with people.
All the party booth offices of the Congress in the state are
playing Bankim Chandra's 'Vande Mataram' song.
State leader of the opposition (Congress) Ratan Lal Nath said: "We
believe in true patriotism and that's why our party is using
patriotic songs during the poll campaign."
Nath, 65, successfully contesting from Mohanpur assembly since
1993, said: "We want a new political culture that would stir the
mindset of young people to join politics."
The Tripura Prevention of Defacement of Property (Amendment) Act,
1998, is now in force. Also, the Election Commission has asked
political parties not to use any static assets, buildings and
government properties for their poll campaigns. Hence, candidates
have put up a large number of party flags on small trees, bamboo
groves and banana plants by the roadside.
Political analyst Datta said : "In the campaign 'pranaam' (touch
an elder's feet in obeisance) is also a habitual style of politics
popularised by Congress candidates, especially former minister
Surajit Datta. The 'pranam' politics has now been adopted by the
Left parties' candidates to woo elderly voters."
Lanes and by-lanes are also decked with flags of Left parties,
Congress, BJP and others.
"Poll fever has gripped the entire state even as the official
machinery and security forces are busy ensuring the elections are
held in a free and fair manner," Chief Electoral Officer Ashutosh
A total of 249 candidates, including 14 women and many
independents, are testing their electoral fortunes in next week's
election to the 60-seat Tripura assembly.
In the 2008 assembly polls, 313 candidates, including 31 women,
Two 26-year-olds are the youngest contenders, both independents,
while 85-year-old CPI-M leader Nirajoy Tripura and Upendra Reang
of the BJP are the two oldest candidates.
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)