The just-concluded civic bodies’ election in Tripura has thrown up a surprise, especially for a state that has been under Left Front rule for fifth consecutive term; the BJP has emerged as a force to reckon by winning for the first time in four wards and relegating the Opposition Congress to the third position in most of the councils.
This has happened despite the BJP’s defeat in the Bihar assembly elections, indicating that while there is some kind of growing opposition to the Left Front in Tripura, the saffron party has definitely made major inroads into urban Tripura. In rural Tripura too, the BJP had last year got 142 panchayat members and captured as many as five panchayats.
Though the Left Front – and particularly the CPI(M) – had won in all the 19 town committees and municipal committees and the Agartala Municipal Corporation, the BJP has secured a record overall 14.24 per cent votes to replace the Congress as the state’s major opposition party at least in the urban bodies. Of the 310 wards in across the state, the Congress could retain only 13 wards, while the BJP won four, and the remainder staying with the Left Front.
State BJP president Sudhindra Dasgupta claims that the BJP would have polled more votes and won a few more wards but for the “combined” pressure of the Left Front and Congress on its workers and supporters. “More people have voted for us because they now know that the CPI(M) and Congress are on the same boat, especially when it comes to contesting against the BJP. But despite that we polled 14.24 per cent votes, which is huge jump from just 1.5 per cent in the 2010 civic elections,” Dasgupta said.
That the BJP has maintained a steady growth in the country’s only Left-ruled state is evident is clear from the percentage of votes it has own the last few years. While it polled 1.5 per cent votes in th 2010 civic polls, that rose to 1.69 per cent in the 2013 assembly election, and then about 6 per cent in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. In the Autonomous District Council election on the other hand the BJP polled a little over 24 per cent, simultaneously relegating the Congress to a poor third.
The CPI(M) however sees the rise in BJP vote-share as a shift of Congress votes to the saffron party. “The BJP vote-share has gone up at the expense of the Congress. Moreover, the BJP probably spent a lot of money, as if it was fighting an assembly election. But there is nothing to worry because the Left vote share has remained intact,” said Gautam Das, a senior functionary of the BJP in Tripura.
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