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TRIPURA: THE RISE OF SAFFRON TREMOR
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October 19 2018, 3:47 am

త్రిపుర రాష్ట్రంలో ఉన్న తాజా పరిస్థితిపై పీపుల్స్ పల్స్ సంస్థ చేసిన అద్యయనం ఆసక్తికరంగా ఉంది. అక్కడ బిజెపి పెరుగుతున్న తీరుతెన్నులను వారి అద్యయనంలో వివరించారు.
The specificities of the socio-political dynamics of Tripura distinguishes it not only from
other north-eastern counterparts but also from other Indian states. Politically, since the
attainment of full statehood in 1972 it is the only remaining state where CPI(M) has been in
power since last forty years since 1978, barring a period of five years from 1988-1992 when
Congress led coalition ruled the state. Besides, the entrenchment of ideological-ethnic fault
lines since late 1970s made elections as occasions replete with political violence.Moreover,
it’s the first state in entire North-East that witnessed the most acute demographic change on
account of the influx of Hindu Bengali refugees from Bangladesh in the aftermath of partition
and 1971 war, relegating the indigenous tribal population as minority constituting around
30% of the state’s population.
CPI(M) AND TRIPURA AS A PARTY-SOCIETY
In the past four decades, the dominant political and electoral narrative of Tripura have been
simple, that is, one is either pro-CPI(M) or anti-CPI(M) and this division permeates through
all sphere of society. Shekhar Dutta, a senior journalist at Agartala, opines, ‘the domineering
presence of CPI(M) in a small state like Tripura is a classic example of latters’ conversion
into a ‘party-society’ wherein nothing is outside the preview of the political gaze. In this
aspect, it surpassedwest-Bengal and thus even the mundane things of everyday life are deeply
linked to peoples’ political affiliations and loyalties.
In fact, a series of three longitudinal fieldworks in all parts of the state by one of the author in
the month of September-October 2017, January 2018 and February 2018, revealed the
entrenched political divisions informing the everyday lives of the people. Hardly any village
that was visited didn’t have the narrative of people being discriminated or rewarded in the
matters of allotment of monthly ration, allocation of government schemes including works
under MNREGAetc, based upon their political loyalties. Every village is politically divided
between the ‘pro and anti’ CPI(M) camps and that got resonated in the responses of the
people who share a positive or negative experiential outlook w.r.t the ruling party. In short,
CPI(M) is the savior and lifeblood to the former and a demon and devastating factor to the

latter.Hence, in the recent months one witnesses the recurring instances of violent intra-tribal
clashes based on their loyalties to anti-CPI(M) Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT)
and CPI(M)’s Tripura UpajatiGanMuktiParishad (TUGMP). Similarly, the Bengali
population constituting almost 70% of the population but primarily concentrated in 32% of
states’ territory also share the intense political divide.
DISCREDITED CONGRESS AND THE RISE OF BJP
Since the turning of Tripura as a red-bastion since 1978 and until last assembly election of
2013, Congress undisputedly had been the fulcrum of anti-CPI(M) sections of the state. As
the table-2 indicates, in the last five elections since 1993, whereupon the left front has
continuously been in power, the Congress-TUJS alliance have been consistently getting the
support of more than 40% of the electorates and the differences of vote percentages between
the two have been in the range of 5 to 8 percent. On the other hand, in 2013 assembly
election, BJP’s vote share was 1.54%. which rose to merely to 5.77% in 2014 Lok Sabha
election despite the prevalence of Modi wave. The CPI(M) in fact not only won both the Lok
Sabha seats but also got a whopping share of 65% of the popular votes and defeated its
Congress rivals by almost a margin of five lacs. The ever-increasing winning momentum of
Left front further continued after 2014Lok Sabha polls, in the elections to Panchayats (15
July 2014), the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) that covers
68% of the state territory (4 May 2015) and Nagar Panchayat & Municipal Council (2015).
However, the zenith of electoral successes of CPI(M) in the period of 2013-2015 had a
profound bearing upon the political dynamics of the state as Congress lost the confidence of
the vast majority of anti-CPI(M) minded voters in the state. This created a political vacuum,
which in turn, created a space for a more credible alternative to anti-CPI(M).

RISE OF THE BJP SINCE 2016

BJP in its post-2014 avatar had already set the electoral aim of having a Congress-Mukt
Bharathad already set its eyes on Tripura to encircle its arch-ideological enemy, the Left, as
part of its aim of realizing a Communist-Mukt Bharat. Keeping that objective in mind Sunil
Deodhar, the national executive member of BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's poll
manager in Varanasi during the 2014 Lok Sabha election, was made the State in-charge of
Tripura who immediately set upon the task of organizational overhaul. Laden by the weight
of Narendra Modi led central government, BJP lost no chance in encashing the crisis of the
lack of a credible opposition in the wake of discredited Congress and invested all its energy
to present itself as a better alternative and determined rival to CPI(M).
Since early 2016, the success of BJP in capturing the imagination of the anti-left voters, its
claim to being the dominant rival to CPI(M) and emergence as the principle opposition force
was endorsedin the results of by-elections to three assembly constituencies wherein it
outperformed Congress and was runner up. in the wake of fieldwork by an overarching
majority of anti-left respondents, both tribal as well as Bengalis, across the state who while
batting for BJP identified themselves as Congress-voters in the last assembly election,
indicating a near complete shift of Congress support base to BJP. Further, to win the war of
perception and increase its winnability quotient, BJP went for a multi-layered strategy of
defecting the big Congress leaders to its fold as has been the case in other states;
systematically highlighting the failures of the Left-front government; making economic and
cultural promises having popular resonance among the people; and launching a high-profile
campaign with star campaigners at the top and a team of thousands of activists, volunteers
and professionals in the backdrop.
Unlike Congress, BJP mirrors CPI(M) in terms of its organizational structure and cadre base.
And laden with the factor of 25 years of anti-incumbency factor against the left to its
advantage, along with populist promises of 7th Pay commission to 1.5 lac government
employees and the alliance with Indigenous Peoples’ Front of Tripura (IPFT) in Tribal
dominated constituencies, BJP is altogether a different business in the state.’

Also, the strong trend of party ruling at the centre having a bigger sway over the electoral
choice in the North-Eastern states would be a factor that CPI(M) had to grapple with while
facing BJP in the first-ever direct contest between left and right in post-independent India.
Irrespective of the electoral outcome, BJP has created a tremor in the last surviving red
bastion

PEOPLES PUlse

tags : tripura, bjp

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