GUWAHATI: The BJP crushed the Left in Tripura on Saturday, ending its 25-year-long run in power, and thereby, inching closer to the dream of ruling the whole of Northeast.
The polls were historic given that the Left has never been in the fighting pit against the Right in a bipolar contest. Following the verdict, the Left has power only in Kerala.
The BJP had fought the elections on its popular slogan “chalo paltai” (let’s change). The change has been massive as the BJP-Indigenous People’s Front of Twipra (IPFT) combine secured two-thirds majority.
The factors working in favour of the BJP-IPFT alliance were anti-incumbency, alleged corruption in the CPI-M-led Left Front government, allegations that the CPI-M worked for the benefit of only its workers and leaders, its alleged politics of terrorising workers of rival political parties besides complacency.
Sitting pretty for 25 years in power, the Left miscalculated the BJP’s strength. The BJP had a high-voltage campaign, going all guns blazing by roping in almost all its top leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah.
In contrast, the CPI-M had a lackluster campaign. Barring one-two rallies addressed by its central leaders, outgoing chief minister Manik Sarkar had led the fight against a resurgent BJP.
The BJP hardly had any base in the state until six Trinamool Congress MLAs, who had won on Congress tickets in the 2013 polls, defected to the saffron party by the end of last year.
That the BJP was serious about Tripura was evident when it sent former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) pracharak and Modi’s poll manager in Varanasi in 2014, Sunil V Deodhar, to the state three years ago.
Later, a bevy of BJP leaders, including Shah, started visiting the state on a regular basis. Shah had, in fact, dined at the house of a tribal. Twenty of Tripura’s 60 seats are reserved for the tribals and the BJP wasted no time in stitching an alliance with tribal-based IPFT.
As it went to the polls, the Left increasingly faced charges of corruption. One of its ministers was grilled by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the multi-crore rupees Rose Valley chit fund scam. The BJP used it as a weapon in the poll campaign.
However, anti-incumbency is believed to have worked in the BJP’s favour in a big way. The Left Front faced anti-incumbency even before but people did have an alternative. The Congress was a divided house and its leaders were allegedly arrogant.
So, when the BJP emerged, people found a party to go to. Not just the upper and middle class, even the lower middle class and the poor embraced the party. It was evident from the BJP winning seats across the state.