THE RULING CPM in Tripura on Tuesday won the two Assembly seats, Barjala (SC) and Khowai, by defeating Congress and Trinamool Congress candidates respectively. Though CPM managed to retain Khowai and wrested Barjala (SC) from the Congress, the BJP was ecstatic. In what is possibly BJP’s best performance in the state, leaders maintained the result has established that BJP was the “alternative to the Left” in Tripura and not Trinamool.
In Barjala, Jhumu Sarkar of CPM defeated his nearest BJP rival Shistamohan Das by a margin of 3,374 votes. While CPM received 15,769 votes, BJP managed 12,395 votes. Trinamool, on the other hand, only got 5,692 votes and the Congress, crippled by an exodus to Trinamool, ended fourth with 1,063 votes.
Always a close constituency, Congress had narrowly won the seat in the 2013 Lok Sabha elections by a few hundred votes. Bypoll in the constituency was necessitated due to the resignation of Congress MLA Jitendra Sarkar in June.
In Khowai, CPM candidate Biswajit Datta trounced his nearest Trinamool candidate Manoj Das by a margin of 16,094 votes. CPM secured 24,810 votes and Trinamool 8,763 votes. While BJP’s performance, with 2,582 votes, was less optimistic, party leaders claimed it was “an improvement”.
The seat fell vacant due to death of CPM MLA Samir Deb Sarkar, a veteran leader. BJP spokesperson Mrinal Kanti Deb said, “It is apparent that since 2014, BJP has become the obvious opposition to the Left Front government. In the last Assembly bypolls, we had done well. But at the time, Trinamool wasn’t in the picture. But here, we have established that in the plains, the fight is between the Left and BJP. In Khowai, where we were confident of doing well, our margin is over 50 per cent more than Trinamool’s.”
Congress had suffered a split in June when six legislators had resigned from the party and joined the Trinamool Congress, making it effectively the main Opposition party in the Tripura Assembly.