The ruling BJP-IPFT alliance on Thursday secured a second straight term in Tripura by winning a simple majority in a multi-cornered contest. The NDPP-BJP alliance bagged 37 seats in the 60-member Nagaland Assembly, securing another straight second term.
In Meghalaya, the BJP is poised to be part of the ruling dispensation again as a junior partner.
In Tripura, the BJP won 32 seats and its ally IPFT (Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura) one seat in the 60-member House, overcoming four challenges, including a Left-Congress arrangement.
The BJP-led alliance beat back anti-incumbency, organisational hiccups and the challenges posed by the Left Front-Congress seat-sharing arrangement as well as the debutant Tipra Motha. Motha won 13 of the 20 seats reserved for ST candidates. The CPM, which led the Left Front, won 11 seats, and its ally Congress three seats.
The Trinamul Congress, which contested 28 seats, failed to open its account.
BJP leaders here attributed the victory to the party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pro-people and development agenda, asserting the “big message” from the Tripura polls was that it was a “prelude” to what would happen in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections even if the entire Opposition unites.
The BJP and its ally, which had won 36 and eight seats in 2018, suffered a loss of 11 seats.
BJP state president Rajib Bhattacharjee and deputy chief minister Jishnu Dev Varma lost. Altogether, three sitting BJP MLAs were defeated. The 2018 victory saw the BJP-IPFT combine overturn the Left Front government which was in power for 25 years.
“The mandate shows the people are with Modiji and the BJP. It is true we have suffered setbacks but we will look into it and continue to work even harder for the people and the state.... Today’s results are a prelude to the 2024 general election that the BJP will win even if the entire Opposition unites because the people are with us,” Sinha said.
Tripura state media-in-charge Sunit Sarkar said the Left Front-Congress seat-sharing worked in the BJP’s favour.
“People did not accept the unholy tie-up. Both parties were bitter rivals for 25 years, Congress workers and their families suffered a lot during the Left regime. All of a sudden, they are together with only one objective, to defeat the BJP,” Sarkar said.
BJP insiders said replacing chief minister Biplab Deb in May last year with Manik Saha was a “masterstroke” as it checked infighting. Left Front convener Narayan Kar accepted the verdict and said they would examine the results to be ready for future challenges.
“We came together with the Congress for restoration of democracy and we will continue to work with democratic forces in the future too,” he said. He said Motha’s decision to field 22 candidates in non-tribal seats indirectly benefited the BJP.
“There was a consolidation of tribal votes in favour of the Tipra Motha even if they had no chance of winning. This harmed our prospects,” Kar said. A CPM member said the presence of Motha in non-tribal areas affected the party in at least seven seats.
The Left Front this time contested 46 seats, backed an Independent and left 13 seats to the Congress, which won three seats. In 2018, the CPM had won 16 seats while the Congress, which did not have any arrangement with the Left, had failed to win a single seat.
The Left lost five seats compared to the 2018 results. The 13 seats won by Motha are located in the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC), now run by Motha.
Motha has dealt a blow to the ruling and Opposition parties alike. The BJP and its ally IPFT could win only six ST seats and one ST seat, respectively.
In 2018, the BJP had won 10 ST seats, IPFT eight and the CPM two. Tipra Motha chief Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarma said the tribal people had shown they want something and it was now for the ruling BJP to meet their aspirations and expectations.
“They cannot ignore 35 per cent of the state population if they (BJP) want to develop Tripura. Our movement will continue within and outside the Assembly,” Debbarma said.
The Tipra Motha’s poll plank of Greater Tipraland resonated with the tribal populace and the party launched a sustained and organised campaign like the BJP. It finished above the CPM (11) with 13 seats.
Additional reporting from PTI