Sunday, Feb 23, 2003
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By Anil Bhattacharjee
The Government has almost frozen recruitment, the only major source of employment in the State. Those with political clout usurp even the small jobs, leaving the deserving and the needy high and dry.
The number of registered unemployed persons in the State is over 3.66 lakhs of which 60,000 have crossed the age-limit waiting for employment opportunities.
This apart, the decades-old problem of insurgency persists in the State. The extremists, who were once struggling for ideology, have now turned flag-bearers of the different political parties.
Allegations and counter-allegations are doing the rounds that the All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) and the breakaway faction of the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) have lent underground support to the Left, while the other NLFT faction has been working for the Congress-INPT combine.
The CPI (M)-led Left Front's main campaign against the Congress-INPT alliance is that the party had joined hands with insurgents and it was anti-national.
In the context of the widening divide between the Bengalis and the tribals (which started in the wake of the Mandai massacre of June, 1980), the Congress-INPT alliance cannot but cause concern to the Bengalis as the `tribal-militants' have been targeting them for years.
The Congress counters the charge by blaming the CPI (M) for the growth of militancy in the State, and that during its rule between 1988 and 1993, there was no ethnic conflict in Tripura.
There is fear and also subtle propaganda among the Bengalis that if the alliance wins, the INPT's chief, Bijoy Hrangkhal, will become the Chief Minister.
The Congress points out that in the interest of peace, it gave up its claim to chief ministership in Jammu and Kashmir. The party blames the CPI (M) for rising unemployment and promises to create 50,000 new jobs in a year.
On his way to Meghalaya, the AICC general secretary, Mani Shankar Aiyer, told this correspondent that the Congress would romp home with a thumping majority and that factional squabbles within the Congress had taken a backseat.
It is likely to be a see-saw battle between the two major combines, while the smaller parties including the BJP, the Trinamool Congress, the Lok Jan Shakti, and the Nationalist Congress Party, are not likely to emerge as a factor in the polls.
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