The ruling CPI-M on Friday retained the Tripura Tribal Areas Autononmous District Council (TTAADC) seat, defeating its nearest rival Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), with a slightly increased vote margin.
"CPI-M candidate Kumud Debbarma secured 9,260 votes, defeating IPFT’s nominee Mangal Debbarma, who managed 8,678 votes. The winning margin was 582 votes," State Election Commission secretary Prasenjit Bhattacharjee told IANS.
In the last TTAADC elections, the vote margin between the CPI-M and IPFT candidates was 509 votes. The IPFT is a local tribal based party.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Trinamool Congress (TMC) supported the IPFT candidate, though the BJP had put up a candidate for the seat.
The BJP candidate, Hiramani Debbarma, got only 133 votes while Congress nominee Kishore Debbarma bagged a mere 155 votes.
The politically important by-election to Simna-Tamakari constituency (in west Tripura) under the TTAADC was held on Tuesday.
Seven candidates were in the fray for the by-poll, which was necessitated following the death of Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) member Ranabir Debbarma earlier this year.
Another tribal based party – Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT) – nominee Nirmal Debbarma got 1,066 votes.
Political analyst said the IPFT, with its demand for a separate state carved out of Tripura by upgrading the TTAADC, has become a major tribal party over the years and organised several agitations in Tripura and New Delhi in support of their demand.
"Earlier INPT was the main non-Left tribal based party in Tripura. With its emergence as a main tribal based party, the IPFT is taking away the non-Left tribal votes including the support base of INPT, causing concern for the ruling CPI-M," political analyst Tapas Dey told IANS.
The ruling CPI-M-led Left Front, with a substantial base among the tribals and non-tribals, now governs the TTAADC, formed by amending the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution in 1985.
The tribal council was formed to improve the socio-economic condition of the tribals, who constitute one-third of Tripura’s four million population.
"Though any outcome of the by-poll would not have an effect on the power equation in the TTAADC, but it is considered as an important indicator for the future politics in the tribal areas of Tripura due to the BJP and TMC support to IPFT. The IPFT has emerged as one of the major political forces in tribal politics in the Left-ruled state," another political analyst Sanjib Deb said.
He said: "The CPI-M is vulnerable, as in the last elections (in 2014) to the TTAADC, its candidate defeated the IPFT nominee by a thin margin of only 509 votes, that too due to division in the votes bagged by opposition political parties."