Change of guard, ‘resource mobilisation’ helped BJP retain power in Tripura
Change of Chief Minister, resource mobilisation, Tipra Motha Party (TMP) factors, among other issues, facilitated the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to retain power in Tripura and keep its winning momentum going in the northeastern region.
Agartala: Change of Chief Minister, resource mobilisation, Tipra Motha Party (TMP) factors, among other issues, facilitated the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to retain power in Tripura and keep its winning momentum going in the northeastern region.
Political pundits feel that a host of BJP’s pre-poll strategies, including changing the Chief Minister, huge resource mobilisation, TMP factors, opposition parties’ organisational weakness, utilisation of double-engine government, among other issues, helped the BJP to come back to power for the second straight term in Tripura.
To give a positive message to the people, BJP’s central leadership had all of a sudden removed Biplab Kumar Deb from the CM’s chair on May 14 last year, and appointed then state BJP President and Rajya Sabha member Manik Saha as his replacement.
The party’s central and state leaders are yet to disclose the reasons behind the removal of Deb from the top post.
In an apparent attempt to tame anti-incumbency and stem any discontent within the party organisation in Tripura, the BJP adopted its now successfully tested strategy to face the February 16 polls with a new face.
With the strategy of changing the Chief Minister ahead of the polls going in its favour in Uttarakhand, the BJP’s top leaders opted for a similar change in Tripura where the party had less than 2 per cent vote share before the 2018 Assembly polls.
The BJP has changed five Chief Ministers since 2019, including in Gujarat and Karnataka.
Political commentator Sanjib Deb said that the change of Chief Minister eight months before the Assembly polls helped BJP to a great extent to retain power in Tripura.
“Law and order was controlled and the Assembly elections were held peacefully, keeping confidence in the BJP governance,” he told IANS.
Deb said the CPI-M had lost substantial quantity of tribal vote share in the 2018 Assembly polls, and in this elections, the Left party further lost its base among the tribals, who always play a vital role in the electoral politics of Tripura.
“In a short span of time before the polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, and BJP President J.P. Nadda visited Tripura and helped BJP woo the voters by highlighting the benefits of double-engine governance,” Deb, who’s the editor of a leading Tripura daily, said.
Political analyst and writer Sekhar Datta said that the BJP government faced many anti-incumbency factors before the electoral battle.
“The central leaders of BJP did not want to take any chance to manage all the loopholes, shortcomings and failures of the government. That’s why they had started electoral preparations in a big way and well in advance,” Datta told IANS.
He said that TMP’s vote share factor was the main reason why as many as 16 vital seats were lost by the Left and Congress candidates.
“In the 16 seats, TMP’s vote share is much higher than the BJP’s winning margin,” Datta said, adding that BJP’s huge resource mobilisation also helped the party win many seats.
The TMP also spoiled the electoral prospects of a few BJP nominees, including Deputy Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Jishnu Dev Varma, who lost in Charilam to TMP candidate Subodh Deb Barma by a narrow margin of 858 votes.
In the just-concluded Assembly elections, the CPI-M led Left parties secured 26.80 per cent votes and 11 seats, TMP got over 20 per cent votes and 13 seats, and the Congress, which contested the elections in a seat-sharing arrangement with the Left, managed 8.56 per cent votes and three seats.
In the 2018 elections, the CPI-M dominated Left Front, which governed Tripura for 35 years in two phases (1978 to 1988 and 1993 to 2018), bagged 16 seats, including two of the 20 tribal reserve seats, while the Congress drew a blank.
The BJP secured 32 seats (38.97 per cent votes) this time, four less than its 2018 tally, while its ally Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) bagged one seat (1.26 per cent votes), down by seven seats from the previous polls.
Political observers feel that providing thousands of houses under the Prime Minister’s Awas Yojana, direct funding of Rs 6,000 to the farmers under the PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi, procurement of rice directly from the farmers for minimum support price, providing social pension of Rs 2,000 to over three lakh beneficiaries, supplying drinking water under Jal Jeevan Mission etc. helped the BJP get electoral mileage.
In the 2013 Assembly polls, BJP got less than 2 per cent votes and zero seat, but with almost en masse joining of most Congress leaders — seven MLAs, workers and supporters — the BJP’s vote share rose to around 44 per cent in 2018 and helped the saffron party hand a humiliating defeat to the Left Front after 25 years.