Elections

BJP stuns Left in Tripura

A BJP supporter in Agartala celebrating the party's victory in the State

A BJP supporter in Agartala celebrating the party's victory in the State   | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar

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BJP, allies likely to form govt. in Nagaland; Scramble for allies in hung Meghalaya; Congress wiped out in Tripura and Nagaland

Marking its ascendancy in the northeast, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the Tripura Assembly elections, ending the 25-year reign of the CPI(M), and put itself in a position to form an alliance government in Nagaland. In Meghalaya, it prevented the Congress from winning a majority, and could well be part of a coalition regime.

The BJP swept Tripura in partnership with the Indigenous People’s Front of Twipra (IPFT) to end the Left Front’s rule and managed to tone down its Hindutva image to improve its performance in Nagaland. Despite the Congress emerging as the single largest party in instability-prone Meghalaya, the BJP could form a coalition government with regional parties.

Crucial numbers

While Tripura gave a clear result, the verdicts in Meghalaya and Nagaland were fractured. At the end of the day, it was clear that neither of the two major regional players in Nagaland — the ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF) and the breakaway Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) — was in a position to form the government without the BJP, which upped its tally to 11 from one in 2013.

 

The BJP inked a pre-poll alliance with the NDPP, but kept its options open to accommodate the NPF, which had been an ally in Nagaland since 2003. Both the BJP-NDPP combine and the NPF fell short of a majority, but the former appeared set to form the government by garnering support from an independent and the lone Janata Dal (United) candidate, who had earlier sided with NPF.

The Congress, wiped out in Tripura and Nagaland, has not given up hope of forming a government in Meghalaya, but is wary of a Manipur-like situation where it emerged as the single largest party in the Assembly elections last year but lost seven MLAs to the BJP that cobbled up an alliance government.

If the BJP forms the government in Meghalaya with two regional parties — the National People’s Party (NPP) and the United Democratic Party (UDP), both constituents of an anti-Congress front named the North East Development Alliance — it will leave only Mizoram and Sikkim where the party is yet to make inroads.

Bitter battle

For the BJP, the victory in Tripura has been the “sweetest after a bitter territorial battle” with the deeply-entrenched Left Front, led by the CPI(M). The BJP got a vote share of 43% to win 35 seats, a huge leap from the paltry 1.54% it could manage in 2013.

What worked for the BJP was its slogan of ‘Chalo paltai’ (Let’s change) that caught the imagination of the electorate. “It has been a historic win. This was possible due to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts. He not only campaigned but also monitored the party’s poll preparations,” BJP general secretary Ram Madhav told reporters here. The CPI(M), he said, gave a spirited fight but the urge for change “from misrule” made the difference.

CPI(M) leaders said they accepted the people’s verdict but blamed foul play by the BJP and the RSS, “aided by paramilitary forces,” for its loss. “We will review the loss and try to come back strongly later,” CPI(M)’s State secretary Bijan Dhar said.

Among the factors that worked in favour of the BJP-IPFT alliance were anti-incumbency, alleged corruption by the Left Front government, and allegations that the CPI(M) worked for the benefit of only its workers and leaders.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 10:35:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/bjp-stuns-left-in-tripura/article22921787.ece

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