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Tripura Deputy CM wins Assembly by-election

Jishnu Debbarma

Agartala: Tripura Deputy Chief Minister Jishnu Debbarma and BJP nominee won the Charilam Assembly by-election on Thursday, defeating CPI-M candidate by a record margin of 25,550 votes. Debbarma is part of Tripura’s erstwhile royal family and is known to have a sizeable following among the state’s indigenous population.

With this, the number of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seats in the Assembly rose to 36 in the 60-member house while its ally Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) has eight seats, taking their total strength to 44 — more than two-thirds majority. Elections were held in 59 constituencies on February 18.

Balloting in Charilam was deferred to March 12 after Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) nominee Ramendra Narayan Debbarma died on February 11 due to cardiac arrest.

Returning Officer Samit Roy Chowdhury said Debbarma wrested the seat from the CPI-M, securing 26,580 votes while CPI-M’s rival Palash Debbarma got only 1,030 votes. The Congress candidate got 775 votes.

On the last day of campaigning on March 10, the CPI-M withdrew its candidate citing “extremely terrible situation” in the tribal-dominated Charilam area “due to massive reign of terror unleashed by the BJP-IPFT cadres”. The CPI-M has 16 seats in the Tripura assembly.

Five years ago, the CPI-M-led Left front got 50 seats with the leading partner alone securing 49. The Congress bagged 10 seats.

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