The final results for the Tripura Assembly election are still awaited but the Bharatiya Janata Party has reasons to celebrate, with trends predicting a saffron sweep in the state.
The BJP in alliance with the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) is leading in 40 of the 59 Assembly seats so far. Compare this to the BJP’s performance in 2013 Assembly election when the party lost its deposit in 49 of the 50 seats it contested.
With a possible win in Tripura, which is one of last bastions of the Left Front, the BJP is tightening its grip in the Northeast. Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur have BJP-led governments.
Besides the anti-incumbency sentiment against a 25-year-old Left government in Tripura, we list three reasons for the BJP’s surge in Tripura:
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ran a door-to-door outreach programme in Tripura for the last three years.
The CPM-led Left Front has traditionally enjoyed a large base at the grassroots and the RSS-BJP started early to cover as much base as possible ahead of the Assembly election in Tripura.
The results: The BJP now boasts of close to 2 lakh members in Tripura, up from a few thousand members in 2013.
Several Union ministers regularly visited Tripura over the last three years, and reiterated the Modi government’s promise of inclusive development.
In the run up to the election, the BJP got its star campaigners Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah to address rallies in Tripura. Both slammed the Manik Sarkar government on the issue of development and asked people to vote for change.
ALLIANCE WITH TRIBAL PARTY
By securing an alliance with the IPFT, the BJP aimed at splitting the tribal vote, which otherwise voted for the CPM.
In 2013, the CPM-led Left Front won 18 of the 20 ST (Scheduled Tribes) seats in Tripura but with a victory margin of less than 2,000 votes in seven of them.
The Congress’ presence in tribal seats has been negligible, and therefore a pact with IPFT meant that BJP could hope to pocket some, if not all, of the 20 seats.
CHOOSING PEOPLE’s ISSUES
The BJP, in its ‘Chalo Paltai’ or Let’s Change campaign, consistently attacked the Manik Sarkar-led Left government on the issues of unemployment and corruption. Tripura’s unemployment figures at 19.7 per cent are the highest in India, according to Labour Bureau data.
Addressing a rally in Tripura, Amit Shah attacked the Manik Sarkar government for rising unemployment and said that under the 25-year Left rule, the number of jobless youths rose from 25,000 to 7.33 lakh.
The Manik Sarkar government also came under attack over its alleged role in the multi-crore Rose Valley chit fund scam.
“Were the poor families of Tripura looted or not? Were the people not forced to commit suicide? Who earned out of the scam? Is it not the time to demand payback and punish the culprits?” Narendra Modi said during his public address in Tripura last month.
Promising to bring development in Tripura, Narendra Modi asked voters to choose HIRA (Highways, Internet, Roadways, Airways) over Manik.
The results indicate that people of Tripura seem to have opted for the BJP and not Manik.