Agartala: The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Front in Tripura assumed office on Wednesday for the fifth consecutive term with the 64-year-old Marxist leader Manik Sarkar at the helm as Chief Minister.

Governor D.Y. Patil administered the oath of office and secrecy to Sarkar, chief minister of Tripura since 1998, and 11 other cabinet ministers at the Raj Bhavan here.

Sarkar pulled off an emphatic victory in the February 14 assembly polls. His predecessors - Sachindra Lal Singh (1963-1972) and Nripen Chakraborty (1978-1988) - served two terms each heading Congress and Left Front governments respectively.

A CPI-M politburo member, Sarkar retained his Dhanpur seat in west Tripura, defeating his Congress rival Shah Alam by 6,017 votes.

Besides Sarkar, the others who took oath on Wednesday are Badal Chowdhury, Aghore Debbarma, Tapan Chakraborty, Manik Dey, Jitendra Chowdhury, Khagendra Jamatia, Sahid Chowdhury, Bijita Nath and Manindra Reang, all members of the previous Left Front ministry.

There are two first-timers in Sarkar's council of ministers - Bhanulal Saha and and Ratan Bhowmik. Saha was deputy speaker in the outgoing assembly.

Of the 12 ministers, eleven are from the CPI-M and one from the Communist Party of India (CPI). Nath is the lone woman minister while Reang is from the CPI. CPI-M politburo member Sitaram Yechury, West Bengal opposition leader Surya Kanta Mishra, CPI-M Assam unit secretary Udhab Barman, senior party leaders and top officials attended the 40-minute function.

The opposition Congress Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT)-National Conference of Tripura (NCT) alliance boycotted the swearing in ceremony, alleging "widespread post poll violence in various parts of the state".

"We shall continue our efforts to uplift the standard of living of the people, especially those living below the poverty line and make Tripura a model state in the country," Sarkar told journalists after the swearing in ceremony.

The Left Front has been in power in Tripura since 1978, barring one term (1988-1993). The Left Front recorded a resounding victory in the February 14 polls, the results of which were announced Feb 28, winning 50 seats in the 60-member legislature and routing the main opposition Congress, which secured only 10 seats while its poll partners INPT and NCT drew a blank. In the last assembly election in 2008, the Left Front won 49 seats followed by the Congress (10) and the INPT (one).

Five women, the highest number in Tripura's electoral history, have been elected to the 11th assembly, all from the CPI-M. The 60-member house will see 10 new faces, of which nine are from the Left Front. The Left Front secured over 52.30 percent votes while the Congress-INPT alliance got 44.60 percent.

Of the 20 seats reserved for tribals, 19 were bagged by the CPI-M while one went to the Congress. The Left party won nine out of 10 seats reserved for scheduled castes. The Congress won one seat reserved for scheduled castes.


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