Manik Sarkar, Tripura’s longest-serving chief minister from 1998 to 2018, has decided not to contest in the upcoming assembly elections. This is another in a series of big developments ahead of the polls, with the Left and the Congress setting aside differences and fighting together this time.
The CPI(M) released its candidate list and will be contesting on 43 seats, while the Congress has 13 along with one each to the Forward Block and CPI as well as an Independent. The list projects 24 new faces, which is almost 50 percent of CPI-M’s total candidates.
Sarkar, who is known for his simple lifestyle, has pulled out of the battle and that, as per the experts, is significant. “He expressed his desire not to contest this election; we tried to convince him in the morning too but he was firm. He has expressed a desire to give his full strength in all seats than to give emphasis on one. We have given him due respect and relieved him,” CPI(M) secretary Jitendra Choudhry told News18.
It was not easy for the CPI(M) to accept Sarkar’s decision but after rounds of meetings, the party finally accepted it. Sources inside the party said Sarkar wanted to pass the baton to the next generation. The polls in the state have more or less revolved around the tall leader’s legendary simplicity.
There are 24 new faces in the candidates’ list released by the CPI(M), which is making an effort to come across as a youth-friendly party.
While former West Bengal CM Jyoti Basu stepped down from contesting elections at the age of 85 in 2006, Sarkar is only in his early 70s and seems to be retiring from electoral politics.