Rishi Sinha, a researcher based in Tripura, has indicated a triangular contest between the political parties, BJP vs CPIM-Congress vs Tipra Motha. Sinha has predicted that no party will get a clear edge.
A total of 28.23 lakh voters are expected to exercise their franchise in the Tripura Assembly elections to be held on February 16, 2023. All major political parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Congress and Tipra, are in full swing preparing for the D-Day. Rishi Sinha, a researcher based in Tripura, has indicated a triangular contest between the political parties, BJP vs CPIM-Congress vs Tipra Motha. Sinha has predicted that no party will get a clear edge. If we talk about 2018 elections, then BJP won 36 seats and IPFT won 8 seats. After which a coalition government was formed in the 60-seat Tripura Assembly. However, in the last five years, five MLAs from the ruling party BJP and 3 MLAs from coalition partner IPFT joined different opposition parties. Then, in the 2022 by-election, the Congress won the Agartala constituency.
The BJP’s 1.5% vote share in Tripura increased significantly to 41.5% in 2018 during the 2013 state elections. The party’s vote share was only 5.7% in the 2014 general elections. The BJP’s jump of 41.5% was the result of several other factors, including its electoral campaign and massive grassroots movement. Even six dissident MLAs of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) joined the BJP, a result of an intense election campaign by the party’s central ministers, the then BJP president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which helped the BJP win its first victory in 25 years. Helped bring an end to the regime. The BJP won both the Lok Sabha seats in Tripura in the 2019 general elections. But at the same time, the Congress party got a vote share of 25.34%, a significant jump from its 1.8% in 2018. It also meant that many traditional voters of the Congress party were switching back to the BJP.
Biplab Deb to Manik Saha
The BJP’s move can also be gauged from the unexpected change of chief minister from Biplab Deb to Manik Saha, barely nine months before the state elections. The saffron party does not want to make any mistake in Tripura. It can also be attributed to the growing discontent against the ruling party and the frequent defection of BJP MLAs to the Congress.
breakdown of ipft
The Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) launched its movement demanding a separate state ‘Tipraland’ in early 2013 and managed to mobilize indigenous people and win eight MLAs in the 2018 assembly elections. Its alliance with the BJP also helped the Kamal Party win 10 ST reserved seats. Of the 20 seats reserved for STs, the BJP-IPFT alliance has won 18. However, after coming to power, the IPFT became inactive in its demand for ‘Tipraland’. Additionally, the recent defection of their MLAs, IPFT supremo N.C. The death of Debbarma and the emergence of Tipra Motha as an alternative marked a major change in the dynamics of indigenous politics.
The rise of Tipra Motha
Tipra Motha, another regional party from Tripura, successfully won the 2021 Tripura Tribal Autonomous District Council (TTADC) elections with its demand for a ‘Greater Tipperaland’. The party’s founder, Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarma, appears to have secured a majority of the IPFT vote, which has lost the confidence of the indigenous people by abandoning its demand for a separate state. Recently announced that his party will go it alone in 40-45 seats, which could be bad news for both the BJP and the CPIM-Congress alliance.
Now, given the demography of Tripura, where around 60% of the population is Bengalis, it is difficult for any major political party to agree to this demand, which also sets the tone for the election that Tipra Motha will contest alone. This is also evident from the formation of Tipra Citizens Federation, a platform for representation of Bengalis in Tipra Motha to make it inclusive. This also means that the BJP-IPFT alliance, which holds 18/20 ST seats, may suffer a setback this time as many believe that Tipra Motha will give a tough fight to the ruling alliance. This is also evident from the defection of one BJP and 3 IPFT MLAs in Tipra Motha in the last one year. At the time of writing this article, Minister Prem Kumar Reang was in touch with IPFT Working President, TIPRA Motha Supremo which is also fueling the speculations around IPFT-TIPRA Motha merger.