Agartala, Feb 28: The Left Front Thursday retained power in Tripura for the fifth consecutive time, sweeping 50 of the 60 seats and leaving the Congress badly bruised with just 10 seats.
Hundreds of Left activists, mainly from the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), celebrated here and across the state as election results left the Congress in gloom.
The CPI-M bagged 49 seats while the Communist Party of India (CPI) won one seat.
It was the best result for the Left since 1978, when it won a record 56 seats. It increased its 2008 tally by one seat.
"This is a verdict in favour of development, peace and stability besides good governance," a beaming Chief Minister Manik Sarkar told IANS.
"People voted and supported the Left Front for taking up development work and for curbing militancy," Sarkar told IANS.
Sarkar, 64, who retained his Dhanpur seat in west Tripura, is the only political leader to be chief minister for a record fourth term in Tripura, a Marxist bastion. It was Sarkar's sixth electoral win.
While the Congress managed to retain its 2008 tally of 10 seats, its ally the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT) drew blank. It had won one seat five years ago.
The Trinamool Congress, which fielded 22 candidates in 2008, did not contest this time to prevent a split in non-Left votes. But even that did not help the Congress.
The Left Front wrested four seats from the Congress-INPT-NCT (Nationalist Conference of Tripura) coalition. The Congress snatched three seats from the Left.
"Left Front candidates have increased their winning margin in most seats," an Election Commission official said.
The CPI-M's 49 seats is three more than what it got in 2008. The CPI won one seat and lost another.
The Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and Forward Bloc lost the two and one seats they contested.
Finance Minister Badal Chowdhury posted the highest winning margin of 12,450 votes.
Assembly Speaker Ramendra Chandra Debnath, Commerce Minister Jitendra Chowdhury, School Education Minister Tapan Chakraborty, Information Minister Anil Sarkar and Tribal Welfare Minister Aghore Debbarma won by huge margins.
Teacher-turned-politician Anil Sarkar, 75, who is also a poet and writer, was re-elected on CPI-M ticket from Pratapgarh in western Tripura for a record ninth time.
Congress leader Ratan Lal Nath won from Mohanpur for the fifth time while state Congress president Sudip Roy Barman retained his Agartala seat for the fourth time.
Former Tripura assembly speaker Jitendra Sarkar, who this time contested on Congress ticket, wrested Barjala seat from the CPI-M. He won by 254 votes.
CPI-M's Ratan Das wrested Ramnagar after a gap of 25 years. He defeated former state Congress chief Surajit Datta by just 15 votes.
"This is a great victory for the Left Front. Good governance is one of the key factors," CPI-M spokesperson Gautam Das told IANS.
Notable Congress losers included former chief minister Samir Ranjan Barma, party leader Subal Bhowmik and INPT president and former militant leader Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl.
Tripura made history when a record 93.57 percent of the 2.3 million voters exercised their franchise Feb 14. There were 249 candidates.
The Left has ruled Tripura since 1978 barring one term (1988-93).