The BJP on Saturday (January 28) announced its first list of 48 candidates for the Tripura Assembly polls, fielding Chief Minister Manik Saha from Town Bordowali and Union minister Pratima Bhoumik from Dhanpur again.
Party leaders Anil Baluni and Sambit Patra named the candidates at a press conference at the BJP headquarters in Agartala.
Patra said the party will soon announce its candidates for the remaining seats. The state assembly has 60 seats.
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Bhoumik was a first-time MP and was elected from the West Tripura Lok Sabha constituency. She was the first person hailing from the state to become a central minister.
In 2018, she had lost the election in Dhanpur assembly seat against the then Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar.
Saha, who replaced Biplab Kumar Deb as chief minister, had won the by-election from Town Bardowali in June last year. Deb was elected to Rajya Sabha in September last year.
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Out of the total seats announced, the party has fielded female candidates on 11 seats, nearly 25%.
In the last assembly polls in 2018, the BJP for the first time had formed a government in Tripura, demolishing a Left bastion. The CPI(M) ruled the state for 25 years.
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The remaining 12 constituencies for which candidates are to be announced are mostly tribal seats.
Four sitting MLAs were dropped to pave the way for newcomers. Former chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb, now a Rajya Sabha MP, did not feature in the list, and BJP state president Rajib Bhattacharjee will contest from Town Bardowali, the constituency held by the former.
The BJP replaced Deb with Saha as the chief minister in May last year. The ex-CM later became a member of the Rajya Sabha.
State president Rajib Bhattacharjee said, “The tickets were given by the party’s parliamentary board after analysing the performance of the ministers, MLAs and leaders. The party’s state leadership has no hand in the process.”
On dropping four MLAs – Mimi Majumder, Biplab Ghosh, Arun Chandra Bhowmik and Parimal Debbarma, CM Saha said, “It happens every time and it is not a big issue.”
Meanwhile, the Tripura BJP has finalised the seat-sharing deal with old ally IPFT, giving the junior partner in the coalition five constituencies, four less than what it got in the 2018 polls.
Announcing that, CM Saha said that the BJP will contest in 55 constituencies.
The saffron party contested the 2018 assembly election together with the Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) and the alliance partners fielded candidates in 48 and 12 seats respectively.
The BJP-IPFT combine swept to power in the state winning 43 seats in the 60-member assembly. The BJP bagged 35 seats and the IPFT eight.
The last date for filing nominations is January 30.
The polling will be held on February 16 and counting will take place on March 2.