Thousands of people have been attending rallies in the Indian state of Tripura on Thursday to show their support for the regional government's revised wage and pension policies.
A day earlier, the communist-led government said it would raise its employees' and retired officers' salaries by almost 20 percent, a move made to counter a similar plan by the rival right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, BJP.
“The state cabinet accepted almost all recommendations of the Pay and Pension Review Committee. An average 19.68 percent pay hike has been approved for the employees, regular and fixed pay, and pensioners after reviewing the state’s financial capacity,” the state Finance Minister Bhanu Lal Saha said.
Rallies across Tripura by various unions to congratulate Left Front Govt for successful implementation of pension & pay related policies. pic.twitter.com/qOcKCH3ABV— CPI (M) (@cpimspeak) June 14, 2017
The decision comes ahead of the state elections due to take place in February 2018.
The BJP had promised a hike in salaries if voted in, with the slogan “help us win, get huge pay hike.”
Tripura is run by a Left-Front government coalition led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), and has been under the incumbent party’s leadership since 1993.
Like the state of Kerala, its deep-seated history of communist and left-wing movements is credited with helping it to advance on a number of fronts.
Its people-centered policies are also said to help explain why it has won five successive election terms.
The state’s mass education program has raised literacy levels on a par with Kerala’s — both are ahead of the rest of India with rates at 94.65 percent and 93.91 percent respectively.
“Our goal is 100 percent literacy and we (will) attain it very soon,” said Tripura’s chief minister, Manik Sarkar, on World Literacy Day, September 8.
The CPI (M) of Tripura also boasts a record number of women members, the figure rose to 28 percent last month, compared to 12 percent at the national level.
Most recently, the state opposed the central government’s new cattle trade and slaughter rules, which have been criticized as having Hindu nationalist political implications, as well as a negative impact on livelihoods.
"A large section of people, especially those from the Dalit community, are engaged in the business of cattle skin. Farmers engaged with cattle business, minorities, those who depend on cattle for their source of protein would be directly affected," Tripura State Secretary Bijan Dhar told reporters last month, before stating that the Left Front government will not be implementing the new rules.
The 2018 elections are slated to be significant — Tripura is being targeted as a key battleground by the BJP as it tries to oust the coalition from the only Left-ruled state in northeastern India.