It was a day of rallies, roadshows and accusations in the fast heating-up political landscape of Tripura.
While the ruling BJP's northeastern poster boy, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, promised to defend the tiny state's territorial integrity on Tuesday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh showcased his party’s development work and accused rivals of "exploiting the poor for years".
On the other hand, rival CPI(M) leader Manik Sarkar taunted the BJP, stating that it was running scared of his party's alliance made with the Congress to oust the "fascist ruler" from the northeastern state.
TMC supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee led a grand roadshow during the day, and told her supporters that only her party was capable of ousting the BJP.
Former royal Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarma refuted Union Home Minister Amit Shah's allegations that his regional outfit, Tipra Motha, has a "secret understanding" with the Congress and the CPI(M).
Debbarma alleged that Shah did not understand the Tiprasa sentiment of the indigenous people and also hurt their feelings.
"Whoever wrote the speech for Amit Shah should be sacked for not doing his or her homework ! Not only did he not understand the Tiprasa sentiment and hurt our feelings he also sent a wrong message to the people of Tripura that Congress/CPIM and Tipra are in alliance," Debbarma wrote in a Facebook post.
Sarma on Tuesday said the BJP will not compromise with Tripura's territorial integrity even if it fails to form the next government in the state.
Addressing a rally in Sepahijala district's Melaghar, he said the BJP was ready to give everything to empower the indigenous people but was against the bifurcation of Tripura.
"I have had two meetings with Pradyot Debbarma who is demanding Greater Tipraland. I directly told him that the BJP is totally against the division of Tripura," he said.
"His grandfather (former ruler of Tripura state Bir Bikram Manikya) had not demanded Greater Tipraland, why is it being raised now?" the Assam CM stated.
Sarma, the chairman of the North-East Democratic Alliance, claimed only the BJP has the guts to take on such an issue, while the CPI(M) and Congress were skirting it.
At a separate rally at Kailashahar in Unakoti district, the defence minister claimed the face of the state changed after the BJP came to power.
Addressing the election rally at Kailashahar, he said Tripura is "literally racing" towards economic development.
"The entire northeast is witnessing rapid development with the help of Internet. Tripura is literally racing towards economic development," he said.
"The CPI(M) used to claim itself as the saviour of the poor but they are the ones who exploited poor people for years. They did nothing for the poor. The face of the state changed after the BJP came to power. It is the people who made the BJP hero from zero," he added.
Polling for the 60-seat assembly will be held on February 16, while the votes will be counted on March 2.
Claiming that the electoral understanding between the Left and the Congress has a "moral ground" in Tripura, CPI(M) leader Manik Sarkar, meanwhile, said that the ruling BJP is "scared to see two of its rivals coming together" in the northeastern state.
Sarkar, in a rally at Dhalai district's Surma, also accused the saffron party of "throttling democracy" in the northeastern state during its rule in the past five years.
"The BJP is questioning the morality of the electoral adjustment but the reality is that the people want to oust the fascist ruler from power," he said.
Sarkar claimed that the Left-Congress understanding is "based on the people's aspiration to restore democracy" in the northeastern state.
In the 2018 assembly polls, the BJP and its partner IPFT secured around 50 per cent vote share. The Left, Congress and Independents had garnered the rest.
The TMC claimed that it was the only party that can oust the “double engine” BJP government.
Banerjee asserted that hers is the only party that can oust the "double engine government of the BJP, and provide the people of the country with an alternative" to the saffron camp.
Addressing a public rally here, she claimed that democracy has taken a backseat in Tripura under the BJP rule, as "parties were not allowed to organize political meetings, and journalists lost their right to gather news".
"Two years ago, our party leaders and activists were attacked, their vehicles vandalized. Some of them were illegally put behind the bars. Democracy is in a bad shape in the state, and our leaders and members became subjects of torture for protesting against such misdeeds," she stated.
In an oblique reference to the BJP, Banerjee also said that the party which cannot guarantee 100 days' work to people has no right to ask for vote.
"The TMC is the only party which would oust the double engine government from the country and provide an alternative to people," she maintained.
Banerjee also claimed that people in Tripura will also "reject" the CPI(M)-Congress alliance, much like what happened in Bengal.