AGARTALA: The Congress on Saturday released its list of candidates for next month's elections to the 60-seat Tripura Assembly, and threw open the door for an alliance with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC).
All India Congress Committee general secretary and in-charge of Central Election Committee Oscar Fernandes communicated the candidates' names to the leaders of Tripura unit of the party.
"Central leaders headed by party president Rahul Gandhi approved candidates for 56 seats out of the total of 60 assembly seats. The names for the remaining four seats will be declared soon," Tripura Pradesh Congress general secretary Harekrishna Bhowmik told the media after announcing the names of the party nominees.
He said: "We are ready to forge an electoral alliance with the TMC. However, in that case, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee will have to talk to our President Rahul Gandhi to finalise the deal."
Of the 56 candidates, three are women and 17 candidates are below the age of 50 years.
State Congress chief and sitting MLA Birajit Sinha will contest from his old turf Kailashahar in northern Tripura, while Congress Legislature Party leader Gopal Roy will fight from his existing seat in Banamalipur in Agartala.
Former Congress minister Laxmi Nag, one of three women candidates, would contest from western Tripura's Dhanpur constituency, from where Chief Minister and ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) politburo member Manik Sarkar has been getting elected for the past five consecutive terms.
Accompanied by state Congress vice-president Tapash Dey, Bhowmik said that no electoral alliance was so far done with any tribal-based party.
Earlier, the Tripura Congress leaders desirous of forming an electoral alliance held a series of meetings with the three tribal-based parties -- Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT), National Conference of Tripura (NCT) and Rajeshwar Debbarma-led faction of Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT).
Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s in-charge of Tripura elections, said the BJP's central parliamentary board meeting would be held in New Delhi on Saturday evening and the parties' candidates for the three election-bound northeastern states -- Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland -- would be finalised.
"The names of the BJP nominees would be declared either on Saturday night or Sunday morning," said Sarma, a former Congress Minister who joined the BJP before the Assam assembly elections in 2016.
The ruling CPI-M-dominated Left Front on Tuesday released its list of candidates for the 60-seats featuring both old and new faces, and seven of the nominees being women.