BJP demolishes Left Front bastion in Tripura; Manik Sarkar loses power

BJP demolishes Left Front bastion in Tripura; Manik Sarkar loses power

AGARTALA, March 3: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies have demolished the last Left Front bastion in the country, Tripura and secured a majority in the 60-member Assembly. Following a brusing battle in Tripura Assembly elections 2018, the Left Front was ousted from power in the state after 25 years by the BJP wave. Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Manik Sarkar occupied the chief minister’s post for 19 years and despite being regarded as a leader with impeccably clean personal record failed to save his party from the rout.
BJP+ has won in 43 constituencies with the Left Front securing only 16. BJP’s superlative performance can be gauged from the fact that from just 1.54% (33808 votes in 50 seats that the party contented) in 2013 Assembly elections, it garnered 42.5% of the votes in 2018. The CPM had 48.11% (10,59,327 votes in 55 seats) share in votes in the last Assembly elections and is still the largest party in terms of vote percentage with almost 43.1%.
Tripura saw a no-holds-barred campaign by the BJP as the party went all out to break Left Front’s stranglehold in the Northeastern state. The Left Front consisting of CPI(M), Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) was confident of retaining power in the state. It banked heavily on Manik Sarkar, the poorest chief minister in the country with just ?3,930 in cash and total assets worth Rs 2.5 lakh, but the move failed as Tripura voters went with BJP’s slogan of “Chalo Paltai” (let’s make a change).
The BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign to generate more jobs in the state, which has the highest unemployment rate in India, connected with the youngsters. The BJP leadership kept on attacking Manik Sarkar over the poor state of development, lack of industrialisation and corruption in the state.
It formed an alliance with the tribal political outfit Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) while the Congress went solo. The decision to ally with IPFT worked well on the ground and split the tribal votes. IPFT’s main demand is a separate state for indigenous people. Out of the 60 seats in Tripura Assembly, 24 are reserved for Scheduled Tribes (ST) and they form 31 percent of the population. The Left Front always maintained an iron grip on the tribal votes but the BJP-IPFT alliance succeeded in wooing the tribes.
The 25-year-old anti-incumbency also proved to be too much for the Left Front which failed to put forward a younger leadership and put its faith on 69-year-old Manik Sarkar.
The BJP also managed to counter the strong Left Front cadre base by embarking on an aggressive campaigning and the party along with the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) went on a membership drive across the state soon after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Tripura voted on February 18 in 59 seats, out of the 60 with almost 89 percent of the voters coming out to exercise their franchise. Elections were countermanded in Charilam constituency as CPM candidate and sitting MLA Ramendra Narayan Deb Barma died on February 11 following a cardiac arrest. The constituency will vote on March 12.