Former CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat (C) speaks to the chief minister of Tripura, Manik Sarkar, as Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan looks on. (Arijit Sen/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Snapshot
  • If you also think that the Manik Sarkar government in Tripura is an example of a benevolent administration, then this piece is for you.

It is well known that communists use terror as a tool to subjugate people and maintain their stranglehold on power. Various communist doctrines sanction the use of terror to perpetuate communist hold on power. The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) followed this practice diligently in West Bengal to retain its hold on power and misrule the state for 34 long years and is doing so in Kerala now. What is little known, however, is that it has been doing the same in the remote Northeastern state of Tripura as well.

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar is known outside his state and the Northeast as an incorruptible, honest and straightforward person, who has provided good governance to his state, which is an oasis of peace. This is a myth perpetrated by the largely leftist and pliant mainstream media. And the spate of killings of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers in that state, as well as allegations of corruption and misdeeds by top CPI-M leaders, has now exposed this myth and revealed the real face of the ruling CPI-M in Tripura as well as its poster boy – Manik Sarkar.

Wednesday (3 January) saw the murder of yet another BJP activist –  60-year-old Amulya Malakar –  who was brutally beheaded by his relative (who is a CPI-M worker) at Rajnagar in Belonia of South Tripura. This was the seventh murder of a BJP worker by CPI-M cadres in Tripura in as many months. What marks these political murders is their brutality –  while Amulya Malakar was beheaded with a chopper, other BJP workers were also murdered with sharp-edged weapons and their bodies mutilated, often beyond recognition.

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The CPI-M in Tripura has been rattled by the rising tide of desertions from its ranks in recent months. Thousands, including many district-level leaders, of the CPI-M have crossed over to the BJP. The CPI-M, which has a formidable party machinery in Tripura that it has misruled for nearly 20 long years, has detected a rising groundswell of support for the BJP in Tripura. A recent confidential report prepared by a CPI-M state committee leader based on feedback from its local committees all over the state speaks of growing disenchantment among the masses towards the CPI-M and sounds the ‘alarm’ over more and more people viewing the BJP as a viable alternative to the CPI-M.

This has spread alarm within the top echelons of the CPI-M and the party apparatchik are now hell-bent on preventing any further erosion from the party’s ranks at any cost. Critics allege that that is also the reason why the killings of BJP activists, especially the ones who have defected to the BJP from the CPI-M, have been very brutal. “The brutality serves as a chilling warning to others who may be harbouring similar designs – and there are thousands of CPI-M activists and supporters ready to join us – to refrain from doing so. The brutal killings also serve to demonstrate to the common people that the CPI-M is powerful and the price for defiance would be steep,” said BJP national executive member and Tripura in-charge Sunil Deodhar.

This is exactly how the CPI-M clung on to power in Bengal for 34 years. Brutal assaults, chilling murders, molestations and rape of women, using the state machinery (especially the police) to beat back and subjugate opposition and silence dissenters, and much worse, marked the CPI-M rule in Bengal.

Senior Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who has been put in charge of the BJP’s election campaign in Tripura, said that four women, all BJP supporters and workers, have been raped and murdered by CPI-M activists, over the past two months. And none have been arrested for these heinous crimes.

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But like in Bengal in 2011 when the Trinamool Congress grew to pose a tough challenge to the CPI-M and unseat it from power, in Tripura too the BJP has emerged as a formidable opposition. The CPI-M in Bengal could not stem the tide of support for the Trinamool and was ultimately swept out of power. The support for the Trinamool gained a momentum of its own that the CPI-M was helpless to tackle and contain. This seems to be repeating itself in Tripura.

But the BJP has a formidable task at hand. It has to demonstrate to the people of Tripura that it is quite capable of resisting the CPI-M’s terror tactics. The BJP has to instil confidence among the people that the CPI-M will not be able to harm them for supporting the BJP. CPI-M cadres are, right now, warning the masses in Tripura that the consequences of supporting the BJP would be dire. The message going out from the CPI-M’s local-level leaders to their common people seems to be: “We will see you after the elections when we return to power. The BJP won’t be there to save you then”.

Thus, the BJP has to demonstrate its strength, through legal and constitutional means, in Tripura now and convince people that it is quite capable of rooting out the communists from the state.

Outside Tripura and the Northeast, little is known about the CPI-M’s killer squads and its use of terror. Little is also known about the alleged involvement of its top leaders, including Manik Sarkar, in the Rs 35,000 crore Rose Valley scam. Few know about various other scams that have taken place under Sarkar’s watch and, as many say, with his full knowledge and connivance. Little is known about how Sarkar and his party kept the state underdeveloped and backward. Little is known of how they have subjugated the state’s original tribal inhabitants who seem to be still living in prehistoric times. The BJP has made the people of Tripura aware of the various insidious and nefarious acts of omission and commission perpetuated on them over the past two decades by the CPI-M. But, will it be enough for the BJP to defeat the latter in the coming assembly elections? Watch this space.

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Also read:
Tripura: A ‘Red’ State Stalked By Death, Disease And Despondency

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