BJP National General Secretary Ram Madhav and Tripura BJP chief Biplab Kumar Deb display victory sign as they celebrate with supporters after party's victory in Tripura Assembly elections results in Agartala on Saturday. BJP's win marks an end to 25 years of CPI-M government rule in the state. (Photo: PTI)
Guwahati: The Left Front’s 25-year-old rule in Tripura came to an end on Saturday with BJP and its alliance partner Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) sweeping the assembly polls by winning 43 seats and leaving CPI(M) at distant second with 16 seats only.
It was a huge turnaround for BJP, which had no MLAs in the 60-member House and had got only around 1.7 per cent votes in the assembly elections in 2013.
The Congress, which over the years had played the second fiddle in the state and has been in power twice, has failed to open its account and its candidates forfeiting their security deposits on majority of the seats.
Crediting the favourable results to the hard work of party workers of Tripura in the last three years, Assam education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who was one of the key architects of BJP’s victory in Northeastern states, said that merger of Trinamool Congress' Tripura unit with the BJP was the most significant factor which consolidated the opposition and anti-CPM votes across the state.
Though, BJP had not declared any chief ministerial candidate, it is believed that Tripura BJP president Biplab Deb would succeed chief minister Manik Sarkar.
Deb, a gym instructor-turned-politician, thanked the people of Tripura for their overwhelming support and credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah with the party's showing. "I am ready to take the responsibility. I will not run away from taking any responsibility," he told reporters when asked if he would accept the task of chief ministership.
However, the BJP leader reiterated that the BJP Parliamentary Board, which would meet in New Delhi in the evening, would take a final decision on the next chief minister of Tripura.
"I have already been given a bigger responsibility, the party’s state presidentship, which I have been fulfilling to the best of my ability," Deb said.
Deb said the people of Tripura favourably responded to the BJP's call to root out the CPI(M) government, which has been ruling the state for more than two decades. "People responded favourably to our call call 'Chalo Paltai' (Let's Change)," he said.
Deb said that the next government's priority would be all-round development of Tripura and people voted for the BJP as there had been total backwardness in the state under the Manik Sarkar government. "The word development does not exist in the dictionary of the CPI(M). Our government will provide good governance and time-bound implementation of all developmental works," Deb said.
The BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said, "Our Parliamentary Board will meet in New Delhi and take a call on issue of selecting the chief minister."
It is significant that BJP contested Tripura elections on local issues and ignored its "Hindutava" plank in the campaign. This was more visible when party brought Maharaja Colonel Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Debbarman Bahadur of the Manikya dynasty into focus. The last reigning monarch of the princely state before it merged with the Indian Republic in 1949, Bir Bikram is credited with planning the kingdom’s capital of Agartala, initiating land reforms, reserving vast tracts of land for Tripura’s tribal population, building Agartala’s first airport and setting up one of the country’s first municipalities and university.
The BJP in-charge of Tripura Sunil Deodhar who played the key role in victory of the party, said, "Maharaja Bir Bikram was a vikas purush, an extraordinary man. He did so much for Tripura but has never received that kind of attention. We are trying to get him the Bharat Ratna. We are also trying to ensure that the Agartala airport is named after him.’’
The BJP strategists laid focus on non-development of the frontier state where unemployment and non-compliance of pay commission’s recommendation for state government employees became a major issue.
In fact of the three states, Tripura was also the most keenly watched for being the last Left bastion in the country. The 69-year-old outgoing chief minister Manik Sarkar, has governed Tripura since 1998. A politburo member of CPI(M), he had been at the helm for the fourth consecutive time.
Besides tapping into the youth, the BJP made aggressive best efforts to break the CPI(M)’s stranglehold in 20 seats reserved for tribals, which possibly turned the ride in its favour. The BJP led alliance has succeeded in winning all the 20 tribal reserved seats. The IPFT general secretary Mewat Jamatia has won from the Asharambari seat with a massive margin of 7,000 votes.
It is significant that BJP had contested 50 seats in the last assembly polls in 2013 and its candidates forfeited their deposits on 49 seats. However, with just 1.87 per cent of votes, it failed to win any seat in the state. The CPI(M) had won 49 of the 55 seats it contested while the Congress managed to win 10 out of 48 seats it contested.
Though, CPM was voted out of power, it succeeded in retaining 43 per cent vote share whereas BJP made significant jump in vote bank by securing 42.8 per cent votes from its dismal performance of 2013 in which it has got 1.5 per cent of votes. The BJP got the lead with vote share of its alliance partner IPFT, which polled 7.7 per cent votes
The Left, after voted out of power in a statement, "The BJP has, apart from other factors, utilised massive deployment of money and other resources to influence the elections. The BJP was able to consolidate all the anti-Left votes, virtually appropriating the erstwhile main opposition party, the Congress." The party’s polit bureau also thanked the 45 per cent people that supported the Left Front, and said it would take remedial measures after carefully examining the reasons for its loss.