As the clock ticks down to the crucial by-elections in the Dhanpur and Boxanagar assembly constituencies, a palpable tension has settled over these areas. These electoral battles, set to unfold from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM tomorrow, have captured the attention of political observers and citizens alike. In this fiercely contested showdown, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPI (M), have gone head to head, with each vying for victory in their respective strongholds.
Boxanagar (No-20) is a constituency with 51 polling booths and 43,064 registered voters. Historically, it has been a stronghold of the CPI (M) since 1978. With the exception of 1988 and 1998, when Congress candidate Billal Mia secured the seat, CPI (M) candidates, including the late Araber Rahaman and the ailing Shahid Chowdhury, have consistently won elections here. However, this time around, the CPI (M) faces a tougher challenge due to the nature of the by-election. The entire BJP cabinet, including Chief Minister Dr. Manik Saha, Minister Sushanta Chowdhury, and senior party leaders, have actively campaigned alongside their candidate, Tofazel Hossain.
In Dhanpur (No-23), a constituency that was a CPI (M) bastion from 1972 to 2018, the BJP is optimistic about replicating its success from the previous assembly election earlier this year. Former Chief Minister Manik Sarkar had secured victory here for five consecutive terms, but the dynamics seem to be shifting. Chief Minister Dr. Manik Saha, Agriculture Minister Ratan Lal Nath, Union Minister Pratima Bhowmik, and other senior BJP leaders have taken the lead in the party’s campaign efforts. This constituency boasts 59 polling booths and a substantial electorate of 50,138. The concluding day of the campaign witnessed both the former and incumbent Chief Ministers addressing rallies, urging voters to support their respective parties. To ensure a smooth election process, a significant deployment of police, Tripura State Rifles (TSR), and central paramilitary force personnel is planned for election day.
The Boxanagar by-election was necessitated by the untimely demise of CPI (M) leader Shamsul Haq, who had secured victory in the assembly election by a margin of over three thousand votes against BJP candidate Tofazel Hossain. Likewise, the Dhanpur by-election arose from the resignation of Union Minister of State Pratima Bhowmik, who had triumphed in the assembly election against CPI (M) candidate Kaushik Chanda by a similar margin. This time, the BJP exudes confidence in retaining Dhanpur and seizing the minority-dominated Boxanagar constituency. The administration has left no stone unturned to ensure a free and fair election.
The upcoming by-elections are not merely routine political events; they represent a battleground where both the BJP and the CPI (M) are fighting tooth and nail to establish their dominance.
Historical Significance of Boxanagar:
Boxanagar’s political landscape is deeply rooted in history. Since 1978, this constituency has consistently favored the CPI (M). The party’s candidates, including iconic figures like Araber Rahaman and Shahid Chowdhury, have repeatedly secured victory. Even when the tide shifted in 1988 and 1998, the CPI (M) retained its grip on Boxanagar for most of its political history.
However, this by-election poses a unique challenge for the CPI (M). By-elections are known for their unpredictable outcomes, and this time, the BJP has pulled out all the stops. Chief Minister Dr. Manik Saha, a prominent figure in the BJP, has taken an active role in campaigning alongside other senior leaders, providing a formidable challenge to the CPI (M).
Changing Dynamics in Dhanpur:
Dhanpur, too, has witnessed a transformation in its political dynamics. For decades, it was considered a CPI (M) fortress, with former Chief Minister Manik Sarkar emerging victorious in five consecutive elections. However, in the recent past, the BJP has been making inroads into this once-unshakable stronghold.
The BJP’s energetic campaign in Dhanpur has been led by Chief Minister Dr. Manik Saha himself, who has taken a personal interest in securing victory for the party. Agriculture Minister Ratan Lal Nath and Union Minister Pratima Bhowmik have joined him, lending their support to the BJP’s cause. With 59 polling booths and a substantial electorate, Dhanpur is poised for a closely watched contest.
The run-up to the by-elections witnessed intense campaigning from both sides. The BJP’s top leadership, including Chief Minister Dr. Manik Saha, Agriculture Minister Ratan Lal Nath, and Union Minister Pratima Bhowmik, took to the streets and rallied their supporters. The CPI (M) was equally active, with candidates Tofazel Hossain and Kaushik Chanda leading the charge in Boxanagar and Dhanpur, respectively.
In the closing stages of the campaign, both the former and incumbent Chief Ministers addressed rallies, making impassioned appeals to the voters. Their speeches reflected the high stakes involved in these by-elections, and the battle lines were clearly drawn.
Unprecedented Security Measures:
The administration has left nothing to chance when it comes to maintaining law and order during the by-elections. A substantial number of police, Tripura State Rifles (TSR), and central paramilitary force personnel will be deployed throughout the voting process. These measures aim to ensure a peaceful and secure environment for voters to exercise their democratic rights.
Reasons Behind the By-Elections:
The by-election in Boxanagar was triggered by the unfortunate passing of CPI (M) leader Shamsul Haq, who had secured a decisive victory in the last assembly election against BJP candidate Tofazel Hossain. Similarly, in Dhanpur, the by-election was prompted by the resignation of Union Minister of State Pratima Bhowmik, who had also won by a significant margin in the previous assembly election.
BJP’s Confidence and CPI (M)’s Resilience:
The BJP’s confidence in retaining Dhanpur and winning the minority-dominated Boxanagar constituency is palpable. Their concerted efforts, led by top leadership, have left no room for complacency. On the other hand, the CPI (M) is determined to defend its historical strongholds, and Tofazel Hossain and Kaushik Chanda symbolize their resilience in the face of an ardent challenge.
The Dhanpur and Boxanagar by-elections represent a high-stakes political battle. These constituencies, once considered impregnable fortresses of the CPI (M), are now fiercely contested ground. The outcome of these by-elections will not only shape the immediate political landscape of Tripura but also serve as a bellwether for the larger political dynamics in the region. All eyes are on these constituencies as they head to the polls, and only time will reveal the verdict of the people.