Manik Sarkar fights against resurgent BJP in Dhanpur
Dhanpur: The Dhanpur constituency in Sipahijala district has emerged as one of the main battlefields in poll-bound Tripura with its hillocks and paddy fields dotted with red and saffron flags.
The constituency, bordering Bangladesh, is the home turf of Chief Minister Manik Sarkar. He is looking forward to his fifth straight victory from the seat in the February 18 polls.
This time, however, Sarkar's CPI(M) is pitched not just against its old rival Congress, but also the saffron party that has been making steady inroads into the state.
The BJP has fielded its state general secretary Pratima Bhowmick from the seat. This is the second time Bhowmick will be locking horns with Sarkar. She fought and lost the elections from this seat way back in 1998.
The Congress has nominated former minister Laxmi Nag from the seat.
The saffron party's high-profile campaign in Tripura, however, has projected Bhowmick as Sarkar's main contender in this election.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during a rally on February 8, had asked the voters to throw away Manik (the Manik Sarkar government) and go for HIRA (H for highways, I for Internet way, R for roadways and A for airways).
Dhanpur, largely agrarian in nature, has 21 villages, mostly inhabited by Hindus, Muslims and tribal people. Muslims live near the India-Banglagesh border and the tribal groups reside in the hilly areas.
According to the state government, the rate of literacy in Dhanpur is around 80 per cent. The constituency has eight rural hospitals, consisting of 10 to 30 beds each, and three primary health centres.
The chief minister said, "When I first came here in 1998, there were no proper roads. My vehicle got stuck in muddy roads and I had to get down to push it forward. Now a highway runs through the constituency and many concrete roads have been laid in the region."
The constituency also lacked drinking water facilities and women, with vessels, would go around in search of water. Pipelines have been extended from the border areas to the hills, Sarkar said.
The BJP candidate from the seat, however, countered Sarkar's claims saying clean water remains a distant dream for the villagers here. PTI