GUWAHATI: The BJP-ruled Tripura will go to polls on Thursday amid predictions of a fractured mandate. The state has 60 seats, of which 20 are reserved for the ST and 10 for SC candidates. The BJP, which has continued with its alliance with the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), will contest 55 seats, while the latter has fielded candidates in five constituencies.
The Left parties and the Congress struck a seat-sharing deal to stop the BJP juggernaut. A triangular contest is expected in 42 seats among BJP, the tribe-based TIPRA Motha and either Left or Congress. The BJP had swept the 2018 elections and ended the 25-year Left rule by riding on the slogan of “Chalo Paltai” (let’s change).
However, former CM Biplab Kumar Deb’s alleged autocratic style of functioning saw the BJP disintegrating slowly. Deb was also in the news more for his bizarre statements. He was replaced with Manik Saha in May last year but it was too late. This was evident from the exodus of some MLAs from the BJP and its ally, IPFT. The TIPRA Motha, led by royal scion Pradyot Bikram Manikya Debbarma, is contesting the general seats as it wants to emerge as a pan-Tripura party.
The general perception is that neither the Congress-Left combine nor the BJP can form the government without TIPRA Motha’s support. Sources in the BJP say Debbarma can be “managed” but he has kept his cards close to his chest. His alliance talks with the BJP failed as the Centre refused to make commitments on his demand for a separate tribals’ homeland. The BJP is confident that the division will be helpful.