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BJP's high-profile campaign aims to breach Left fortress

Press Trust of India  |  Agartala 

has never seen a campaign like this, at least he cannot recall, says Mithun Ghosh, a government employee in his 40s, of the BJP's relentless, star- studded electioneering to breach this Left of over 25 years. was in the north-eastern state last week and will hold two rallies on Thursday.

BJP president has held multiple public meetings and road shows while top leaders like and besides its face -- Minister Yogi Adityanath -- have been reaching out to the 25 lakh voters in its 60 assembly seats. The national spotlight the tiny state is getting is something new for its curious and politically aware voters who are divided on whether the saffron surge will be enough to surmount the red fortress. For a party which got less than two per cent votes in the last assembly polls, the task at hand could not be more arduous. had received over 50 per cent of votes and its has a standing that often rises above the common refrain about lack of employment opportunities, development, and basic issues of drinking water and If is promising continuity with its focus on rural development and the poor, the BJP has let it be known that with the party in the power at the centre, it can shower the state with goodies and funds which the CPI(M) cannot. "When India's minister releases our vision document and promises that government employees will get salaries as per seventh pay commission and not fourth, which is the case now, then it is clear that we mean business," state says. Minister had released the document on Sunday. The CPI(M) on its part has termed the BJP's promises, including for youths, a 'jumla' (rhetoric) . However, BJP campaigners have persistently pointed out in their rallies the state's high poverty rate of over 67 per cent and unemployment rate besides erratic power supply in large parts to corner the The state has been under rule since 1978 barring a five-year period between 1988-93 and Sarkar has been at the helm since 1998. The BJP feels it can cash-in on an anti- incumbency. Left workers like say capital Agartala used to have strong pockets which have now shifted to the BJP, but assert that the villages in the largely rural state remains under the sway of the "Left movement". People go to see the BJP's road shows and its leaders rallies out of curiosity, he says, and adds that "every family in the state will tell you that has made their lives better". A BJP leader, who is from and has been campaigning in Tripura, calls the fight with "neck and neck", saying his party will do well in Agartala but the Left has deep roots in villages. The BJP, its leaders say, has brought in hundreds of workers from neighbouring states like to campaign for it across the state. The party has, they said, workers in every booth and have been working assiduously to build base in villages since Amit Shah took over as the in 2014 and set his sight on this The decades-long work put in by the RSS and its affiliates means that the party also has a seasoned pool of activists on the ground to capitalise on the buzz created by rallies of its big leaders. The BJP is confident that it will be able to attract the the young population, which rues lack of opportunities in the state. Uppal Bishwas (28), who calls himself a farmer, raises the BJP's slogan of 'chalo paltai' (Let's change the government) when asked of his opinion. Asked what he expects a BJP government to do, he says depends heavily on the Centre for its resources and it will help if it comes to power. In a first direct electoral contest between and the right, goes to the polls on February 18 and results will be out on March 3.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, February 13 2018. 16:00 IST