With nearly 47,000 first-time voters out of a total of 25,36,589 in the Tripura assembly elections, which took place on Sunday, the youths have been a significant segment in this polls. In the last assembly poll, Tripura had a sizeable 17 per cent youth vote. And with each vote crucial for formation of the government, the youths in the state are unambiguously tilted towards BJP. The trend has been seen across party lines and constituencies – from the erstwhile Congress supporter to young CPM voters in both rural as well as urban areas and among the Bengalis as well as the young tribal voter.
Take for instance the opinion of 22-year-old Moumita Gupta, an SFI activist, whose family has been CPM loyalists for decades. “I am an SFI activist, but despite that I feel this time the BJP should form the government. It’s not because the Left hasn’t given us anything or that they haven’t done their job. It’s just that I feel that Tripura is being left way behind. If you study in Tripura, your scope of getting a job or a good career is limited. Even most of the doctors and engineers who work in the state have completed their education outside the state. The standard of education here really falls short of the benchmark. The CPM has done a lot in its tenure. But we are aspirational and we do want more. So. let’s give the BJP five years and see what happens. We can always vote the Left back in later,’’said Moumita, who is in her final year of Political Science (Honours) at Bir Bikram Memorial college in Agartala.
Like Gupta, Sagar Deb (22) has completed his B.Com honours and this is the first time he voted from Banamalipur constituency. “I am voting for Biplab Deb and BJP. From the time I was born, I have only seen one government and one chief minister. It’s the same people again and again. Everyone in this government is old. It’s time for some fresh faces. And I wouldn’t mind a second mobile,’’he said, referring to BJP’s promise of free smartphones to all Tripura youth. “After graduating, I work as a sales representative for a Bangladeshi plastic manufacturer. But I want better opportunities than that. I don’t want to be a salesman all my life,’’he said.
In Golaghati assembly constituency, a reserved tribal seat in Sipaijala district, which is considered a red belt, this is 19-year-old Deepika Debbarma’s first elections as well. “I voted for the BJP. I am not interested in politics at all. But I do know that my vote is for parivartan (change) and that I want to see a younger cabinet. The ministers right now are just too old,’’she said.
Mohammad Alam (19) from Sonamura constituency, which has a large Muslim population, however, is voting for the CPM this time. “My family votes for Congress. But since the BJP has entered politics here, we will be voting for the CPM. I don’t like the BJP. Besides my father has told me to. And I already have a smartohone,’’he said.
BJP Tripura prabhari Sunil Deodhar said the popularity of the party among the young voters could be attributed to the fact that they have “only seen one government from the time they were born”. “They have never seen a change in the government or chief minister. They have not seen a change in the education or health system. They have not seen a change in the job sector. They have only seen party-baazi. Also, Tripura really only became internet friendly only as recently as 2013. All these young people are on Facebook and social media and are connected to the rest of the world. Globaliastion has reached Tripura only now and its effects are showing in this election. That is why the BJP set up a strong social media team in the state and we have stressed on youth-oriented programmes,’’he said.