Kailashahar (Tripura), Feb 7: With religiously mixed population, the Kailashahar township in Unakoti district of Tripura is sitting in all excitement and is reeling under tension of a possible communal trouble during the ensuing polls.
The first glimpse of the same came on February 4 when Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani landed here for a day-long campaign.
According to BJP workers, the CPI-M brought out a ‘bike rally’ in support of their candidate Mohaswar Ali coinciding with the timing of Smriti Irani’s movement in the township. “It was all pre-planned. They wanted to create a social tension. And therefore even the administration and the local police apparently collided with the state’s ruling regime in the conspiracy,” Shyamal Kumar Das, a poll manager in BJP office here, told.
The charge is denied by the CPI(M) outright. District CPI (M) spokesman Bishwaroop Goswami says, 'The BJP’s roadshow was in violation of the code of conduct and election rules. Our programme for the ‘bike rally’ was decided much earlier. It was they who tried to create a tension because communal tension has always helped BJP garner some additional votes.'
Even common citizens in this sleepy town admit that in the run-up to the February 18 Assembly polls, the Kailashahar township is sitting in all tension. The reasons are many, they say. 
'One of them is the legacy of past problems – as the township experienced sporadic violence even five years back in 2013 and secondly, the other reason being - religiously divided communities in the constituency. Out of 46,054 voters, there are over 21,500 Muslim voters,' says a rural cooperative bank employee Poritosh Nag.
Agrees Naushad Ali Khan, a shopkeeper. 'The CPI (M) nominee is Mohaswar Ali, who lost by a close margin of 485 votes against pradesh Congress chief Birajit Sinha in 2013. Even the Congress party here in the past had played the 'Hindu card' as in the urban hubs there are over 14,000 Hindus and youngsters get easily lured by hardliner politics,' says Khan.
Another BJP supporter Biswajit Dhar says, 'Tension may be there.....but a large number of CPI(M) cadres have joined the BJP. So they cannot get away with their well known ‘violence card’. People understand their methodology pretty well and the BJP is also well prepared.'
The testimony of Dhar makes sense as locals also speak about substantial number of Bajrang Dal activists from Assam and Bihar pouring in. 
On the face value, going seems to be fairly good for the BJP. This confidence only got a bolster when a large number of Congress supporters have pledged support to the saffron party. Even the erosion in the Left support base has helped the BJP – at least as a point of argument.
According to BJP insiders, intellectuals have openly decided to back their candidate Nitish Dey, incidentally a former CPI(M) leader. In fact, after 2013 polls, Mr Nitish Dey was attacked allegedly by the Left cadres for 'secretly' contributing in Congress victory.
Kailashahar is a known hub of Hindu migrants from Sylhet district in Bangladesh and thus the card played by BJP strategists have always tried to push the line that ‘Muslim appeasement’ card of the communists can go in favour of the saffron outfit in the ultimate.
'Our fight is with the communists who are finished globally; as for Congress candidate, any vote for the grand old party is wastage,' says Gopa Ghosh, a BJP Mahila Morcha worker.
'I joined BJP in 1989. The saffron party was definitely weak organisationally, but people have moved towards us. We are now set to win this seat,' says Ms Ghosh.
Others also point out that the BJP’s growth has been phenomenal in last few years. 'From over 2,000 active members, the BJP membership number has gone up to more than 3 lakh over the last two years in Tripura. The stage is fit for a keen contest. Even Muslim and tribal voters may vote for BJP,' says a local newspaper columnist Samar Chakravarty in reference to the four assembly segments in and around Kailashahar.
Many voters in the Kailashahar township and nearby constituencies like Chandipur and Fatikray say, the ‘fear’ of violence to be unleashed by the CPI-M cadres is now 'a thing of the past'.
'In a show of strength, the BJP workers are putting up BJP flags across the four constituencies in this district. This was unbelievable even two years back,' remarked a sweet-restaurant owner Nitai Das.
Enthusiastic BJP workers are seen occasionally holding motor bike rallies in small towns and even well-known Left citadels. 'The fear is gone,' is the refrain.
However, the CPI-M leaders are banking on a key catch or a sort of strategic challenge for the saffron party. In this context, CPI-M district spokesman Bishwaroop Goswami says, 'The voters are secular minded and know the impact of Jumla politics of falsehood. Thus even the upper caste Hindus do not necessarily relate to the 'Brahminical appeal of the RSS'. The ‘hate-Muslim’ card may not be sale able.'
To an extent, the Marxist diagnosis may not be wrong. In some quarters, the BJP has planned different electoral strategies. 
The saffron party strategists realise that the BJP lacks the renown ‘Left slant’ - both economically and socially - and that this could be a hurdle to sway minds of Bengali middle class voters. 
Thus, sources say the BJP poll managers have drawn out a few specially worked out electoral strategies to capture the minds of voters.
A well structured campaign has been launched. In some parts they play up 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' but in Bengali-dominated parts of Tripura where the pro-Hindutva slant would find easier acceptance, they talk about country’s partition and the pro-Muslim slant of the CPI(M) leadership at least in the national level.
The idea is largely seen as efforts to capture the upper caste Bengali mind - for a start - especially among those whose forefathers had to leave Bangladesh during partition in 1947. UNI
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