C Times, 4th July 2017, Agartala
Will BJP’s quest to dethrone the 24-year-old CPIM regime ever turns into reality is the million dollar question that is swinging the minds of the common people of Tripura.
Tripura State BJP is trying heart and soul to unite all the anti-left votes under one umbrella but will it prove beneficial in the long run remains to be seen. Recently Five Trinamool Congress legislators in Tripura have been suspended for criticising party chief Mamata Banerjee’s support to the Opposition’s presidential candidate Meira Kumar.
According to Sudip Barman, “CPM is backing Meira Kumar and we cannot vote for a candidate who is being supported by the CPIM. The CPIM is our main enemy and we have been fighting against its misrule for a long time.”
The suspended MLAs are Sudip Roy Barman, Diba Chandra Hrangkhawi, Asish Saha, Biswabandhu Sen and Pranjit Singha Roy. They had defected from the Congress to the TMC before the West Bengal Assembly elections last year.
Now if we turn the pages of history, in the 2013 elections just a few days before the declaration of results the Congress supporters led by Sudip Roy Barman who was Leader of Opposition in Assembly openly declared the victory and arrival of Congress in the state in front of The Congress Bhavan.
But what happened on the day of the result is known to everybody. The left party pocketed 51 seats leaving the Congress with nine. Bloodshed due to political vendetta took place in various parts of the state. The core congress followers of Sudip Roy Barman tried to reach him for help and shelter but he abandoned every one of them and even kept his mobile switched off for a month.
In other words being the Leader of Opposition in Assembly he did not bother to come forward and betrayed his own party members. The 2013 elections marked the beginning of the downfall of the Congress party as an opposition party in Tripura.
Surprisingly in 2016 West Bengal Assembly elections when the Congress party formed an alliance with the CPIM party to dethrone the TMC, Sudip Roy Barman and five other MLAs quit Congress in protest against the party’s electoral understanding with the CPI (M)-led Left Front.
Sudip Barman also led his followers into attacking the Congress Bhavan and tearing the posters of Sonai Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Sudip Roy Barman has always been known as the “The Flag bearer of Group-ism”, a power hungry and dominant leader which was eventually proved when five INC MLA’s led by him joined the TMC and toppled Congress as the main opposition in the Tripura Legislative Assembly. Sudip Roy Barman due to his attitude was not accepted by one and all and so many senior TMC leaders sensing the beginning of group-ism in the party left the party and joined BJP, said a senior Congress leader.
On the other hand in the 2014 civic bodies election 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 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.
The BJP’s “Look-East policy” has already resulted in a takeover of three of the seven north-eastern states – Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur – dislodging the Congress.
The ruling Left Front has 50 legislators in the 60-member assembly, the BJP has none – a situation reminiscent of Assam, where the BJP had gone from zero to 64 in last year’s assembly polls in the 126-seat assembly.
Moreover, the people of Tripura have started to accept the BJP and it has already gained the position of the main opposition in the hearts of the people. From a paltry 2000 supporters, the number of BJP members has gone up to more than 2.5 lakh over the last three years in Tripura.
According to a BJP source, “The TMC MLAs are going to join the BJP this month. With the Trinamool having six MLAs in the Assembly and all of them joining the BJP, this will be the first time that the BJP will have a presence in the Tripura Assembly and the move, which the party leadership has been working on since the past six months”. Now whether the joining of six TMC MLA’s will be a boon for the party or will it create a rift between the existing senior BJP leaders and newly joined TMC MLA’s remains to be seen, said a political analyst.
When BJP national president Amit Shah visited Tripura he said that ” BJP is working towards the formation of an open ground where all anti-left parties will unite and fight as a single unit to oust the 24-year-old left govt. from the state” Now whether the childish BJP activists and the far-sighted dominant leaders can work together to achieve the goal and transform Amit Shah’s dream into reality or the history of 2013 Assembly elections repeats itself remains to be seen.