Election results are out for the state of Tripura in northeast India. Communists were re-elected to power for a fifth consecutive term. The Communist Party of India-Marxist and Communist Party of India bagged a total of 50 seats out of 60 in the state parliament.
Communists have won that state's elections seven times in total since 1978. They lost marginally in 1988-93.
The remaining 10 seats went to the Indian National Congress Party, Congress for short, which is the ruling party nationally.
More than 2 million voters went to the polls on Feb. 14. There were long queues still at closing time forcing polls to extend their hours in order to let all vote. The turnout hit a record 94%.
Communists are seen as honest and devoted to the people. It is often said that Chief Minister Manik Sarkar has the lowest "bank balance" of any other state chief ministers. In contrast, the opposition Congress Party is roiled in deep allegations of corruption at the federal level.
Even before Tripura became a state, in 1952, Communists won the area's first elections. Now what people have appreciated is the level of development. After the results came in Sarkar said, the voters' "verdict" went in favor of "development, peace, stability and good governance." The charges of increasing unemployment and income disparity hurled by opposition did not seem to stick.
While other eastern states face violence and instability from both terrorist sources and the military, Tripura has been managed to avoid this by reaching the public for support. The media says, "Curbing militancy is rewarded."
The other two bastion states for Communists are West Bengal and Kerala, although currently Communists are out of power there. Observers say those states could likely swing back to Communist government as corruption cases on current rulers abound. Next year, 2014, is national elections for India's parliament.
Photo: Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, left, stands with West Bengal former CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharya at the Communist Party of India-Marxist 2008 convention in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. (PW/Teresa Albano)