1:51am, 8th March, 2018
The results of the Tripura Assembly polls conducted on 18th Feb were released on Sunday and BJP –IPFT alliance has emerged as the winner with a clear majority of 43 out of 60 seats. BJP won 35 seats and IPFT won 8 out of 9 seats that it contested. BJP backed by the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura handed a crushing defeat to the Manik Sarkar led Left front CPM, who had been ruling over the state for 25 years. BJP rose from a non-entity party to chief opposition party in Tripura in the last four years. With Tripura under its wing, BJP will now rule over six of the seven north eastern states with the exception of Mizoram. The north east which was mostly cut off from the mainland politics until now, has been taken over by the Saffron wave that prevails over the country with the exception of very few states.
Let us have a look at the factors that actually led to the historic victory of BJP in Tripura:-
The people of Tripura voted for CPM in elections after elections for 25 years and still could not see any development or scope of improvement in the conditions of the poor. Despite being in power for such a long time, the Left has not been successful in uplifting the tribal population of the state. Basic facilities still elude a large chunk of the tribal population. They are still poor and many families cannot send their children to school. Drinking water continues to be an issue as tribals still drink water from rivulets. Also, the unemployment rate in the state is one of the highest in the country. Local CPM leaders were accused of providing the benefits of government schemes to their own people only. So basically, the people of Tripura gave up on the Left and were looking for a better option to dislodge the state government. All these years, there was no such strong opposition option available to them apart from Congress. With the extensive BJP-RSS campaigning in the state for the last two years, BJP was able to create a vote base for itself as the population turned in its favour. A lot of Congress supporters too converted to BJP. The Bengali majority of the state was a loyal vote block for the Left but this time, they too got lured into BJP’s call for change.
ROSE VALLEY CHIT FUND SCAM:-
Kolkata company Rose Valley Hotels and Entertainments Limited has been accused of running a scam and cheating investors of more than Rs.17000 crores across the eastern states of Assam, Tripura, West Bengal and Bihar. It is one of the biggest chit fund scams of India. A large number of poor people in Tripura who were among the investors, lost their money in the fraud. BJP used the Rose Valley scam issue to not only intimidate the Left but also gained the confidence of the people by promising them thorough investigation of the scam and justice for the victims on coming to power in the state. BJP also promised to work out a mechanism to compensate the 14 lakh people cheated by the Rose Valley company. In the past two years, BJP has managed to bring out a lot of big names associated with the Manik Sarkar government who were involved in the scam with the help of CBI.
Unemployment in Tripura is a major issue of concern. The state has nearly 7 lakh unemployed youth. The Bangladeshi immigrants managed to infiltrate into the state and somehow procure all necessary documents, taking up the few employment opportunities that are available while the youth of Tripura continue to suffer. The Manik Sarkar government has been suspected of encouraging the Bangladeshi infiltration. With BJP coming to power, the people are hopeful of generation of more employment opportunities and overall development of the state.
The shifting of the loyalties of the tribal and backward class voters (considered the vote bank of CPM) towards BJP turned the tide in its favour. BJP’s masterstroke was the striking of an alliance with the regional party IPFT, an agenda it has followed in all the north eastern states. The common goal of the alliance was the formation of a government with representatives from centre, state and the indigenous community for better addressal of the tribal issues. This move by BJP helped it procure the votes of even those areas which were not aware of the party owing to their trust and loyalties to IPFT.
The Seventh Pay Commission has not been implemented in Tripura yet. State government employees continue to draw salaries on the basis of the Fourth Pay Commission. BJP has promised to implement the Seventh Pay Commission which would lead to an approximate doubling of salaries of the government officials. A majority of the 2.5 lakh government employees of the state voted in favour of BJP.
While large parts of rural Tripura are yet to be provided with electric supplies, the state continues to supply electricity to Bangladesh. This issue is a major source of discontentment among the people.
Post-election Scenario in Tripura:-
After the BJP victory in Tripura, Lenin statues were brought down by the BJP workers. The Left has accused the BJP of violence against its cadres. Currently, section 144 has been implemented in the state. The violent acts have drawn criticism across the country after which BJP issued a warning that any party worker who was found to be involved in such activities would be arrested and expelled from the party. While Biplab Deb, the state president of BJP in Tripura is being considered for the post of the Chief Minister, IPFT has raised demands for a tribal CM for the state and proportionate representation at respectable positions in the ministry. The IPFT continues to stand firm regarding its demand for a separate state for the tribals . It would be interesting to see how BJP manages to handle the sensitive issue.