It is free for all!

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It is free for all!

Friday, 17 February 2023 | Pioneer

It is free for all!

Tripura elections once again show how political parties are wooing voters with freebies

The Northern state of Tripura is the first state this year to go to the polls. The fate of 259 candidates in the fray for the 60-member Assembly was sealed in the ballot machines on February 16. The results would be declared on March 2. The state elections are important on two counts, first, its result would decide the future of communists in the Northeast and secondly, it would also be a good indicator of other states in the Northeast going to polls later this year. The state witnessed a fierce triangular contest - the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the CPM-Congress alliance, and the local TIPRA Motha were the three main contenders. The 2018 Assembly elections were watershed in Tripura. The state voted out the ruling Left Front government, which had held power since 1993. The CPM-led Left Front held sway over Tripura for nearly 25 years, leading the state to be dubbed a 'red holdout'. But the BJP seized power in the last polls. This year, BJP's focus is going to be retaining its sway over the electorate. The Communists, on the other hand, have allied with Congress.  

All political parties have gone all out to woo the voters. They have made many tall promises to the voters in their manifestoes. It would be interesting to see whose promises the people of Tripura fall for. The BJP’s bid to woo the voters is loaded with several attractive ‘rewaris’ or freebies. BJP promised a meal at Rs 5, an amount of Rs 50,000 to EWS families on the birth of a girl-child, a scooty to meritorious college-going girls, smartphones to 50,000 meritorious students, two free LPG cylinders to the beneficiaries of PM Ujjwala Yojana, land pattas to all eligible landless citizens, and the list goes on. The CPM’s appeal was more ideological as it promised to restore 'democratic, political and religious rights' but it also offered sops; 200-day work to the poor under MGNREGA, bringing back the Old Pension Scheme, 2.5 lakh new jobs in next five years, free electricity up to 50 units per family, and so on. Congress promised to restore the old pension scheme for government employees, and free 150 units of electricity along with other promises. Two things are going to decide the outcome of the elections — the division of votes among the opposition parties that is CPM-Congress alliance and TIPRa Motha party and the lure of freebies which has now become a norm and even the BJP which is vocal against it has offered them on the platter. If CPM can can make a comeback or fade into oblivion would be known on march 2.

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