The ruling CPI(M) in Tripura is seeing red over a Hindi feature film called Lal Sarkar, which the party believes is a part of the BJP's electoral campaign in the state ahead of Assembly polls.
Scheduled to be released in the first week of February, Lal Sarkar—or the red government—is about a documentary filmmaker who discovers the alleged wrongdoings of the Left Front-ruled government in the northeastern state.
Producer and writer Susheel Sharman held that the film had nothing to do with the BJP or the February 18 Assembly polls, but was based on facts.
"I have used my own money to make this film. The BJP has nothing to do with it. It is a commercial film, but based on facts," Sharman said.
The CPI(M), however, insisted that the BJP was behind the film and questioned the timing of its release.
"In every constituency, they have brought vehicles with big screens. Why are they releasing the film in February, just before the elections? The producer may not say so, but the BJP is behind it," CPI(M) Tripura state secretary Bijan Dhar told reporters.
The BJP denied it was in any way connected with the film.
"It's completely untrue that the BJP is behind the film. But if the film shows the truth about the Tripura government, I welcome it," said Sunil Deodhar, in-charge of Tripura BJP.
Sharman, however, said BJP Member of Parliament Babul Supriyo had sung a song for free for the film.
"One of the songs has been sung by Babul Supriyo. He has not taken any money for the song. He treats me like his younger brother. We share a personal relationship that has nothing to do with the BJP," Sharman said.
The producer added the film was to have been released last month.
"We had planned the film almost two years ago. The film was supposed to have been released in December 2017, but post-production work took a lot of time," he told reporters.
The producer said the idea for the feature film struck him when he visited the state a few years ago to shoot documentaries on tribal people.
"We went to tribal areas and made two documentaries on the situation in Tripura. But we felt we could not reach out to the people only through documentaries," he said.
It was then that he decided to produce a feature film that would highlight "the plight of the people" of Tripura.
"Nobody in the country knows about the things which are happening in Tripura. People don't even know where Tripura is located," the producer said.
The film tells its story through a documentary filmmaker who visits Tripura and sees alleged irregularities there. It mentions the national scheme MNREGA, which Sharman alleged was a scam in the state.
"Though the state government has claimed it has successfully implemented the national rural scheme, in reality only 5 per cent work has been done. No one knows where the central fund has gone," Sharman claimed.
The Left party denied the allegation.
Dhar pointed out that Tripura had been awarded seven times by the Central government for its performance.
"Why would the Central government give awards to us for MNREGA? For the last seven years, we are number one among the states. We have been considered the best among all states where MNREGA has been implemented successfully," Dhar said.
Though the CPI(M) said it did not think the film would have an impact on the people of the state, the party was considering complaining to the Election Commission.
The 110-minute film, directed by Abhijit Ashok Paul, is subtitled in Bengali and Kokborok, a tribal language of Tripura, and is the Delhi-based producer's first feature film.