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Verdict in Tripura

Elections could not be held in seven “urban localities” and the BJP secured victory without contest. This is the first occasion when Trinamul contested the polls on its own in a state other than West Bengal. Suffice it to register that Bengal’s ruling party, with a negligible presence in Tripura, has now emerged as the principal opposition in the state with a vote-share of more than 20 per cent.

Statesman News Service | Kolkata |

The Bharatiya Janata Party has not only retained its fort in landlocked Tripura bordering Bangladesh, but has strengthened it considerably. As many as 329 of the 334 seats in 13 “urban local bodies” were won by the party and in a state that had been ruled by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) for 25 years.

In the net, cries of “murder of democracy” by both the Trinamul Congress and the Left in the runup to the polls on 25 November had little or no impact on the electorate. Yet the outcome will hopefully not militate against the charges against the BJP.

As it turned out, Trinamul won one seat in the Ambassa municipality and emerged as the primary opposition in the Agartala Municipal Corporation, securing a vote-share of 20.2 per cent against the CPI-M’s 19.4. The Marxists could win only three seats as the Trinamul performed better in four other quangos.

More accurately, save the CPI-M, the other parties ~ including the BJP ~ do not have a traditional base in Tripura. Trinamul has now replaced the principal opposition ~ CPI-M) ~ in five of the 13 municipalities.

Elections could not be held in seven “urban localities” and the BJP secured victory without contest. This is the first occasion when Trinamul contested the polls on its own in a state other than West Bengal. Suffice it to register that Bengal’s ruling party, with a negligible presence in Tripura, has now emerged as the principal opposition in the state with a vote-share of more than 20 per cent.

Even on Sunday, in parallel to the declaration of results, Trinamul alleged that several of its candidates had been attacked during the day. It would be presumptuous to suggest, as the Trinamul does, that if the voting was fair and peaceful, the “BJP would have lost all seats in Agartala”.

This recalls the perception articulated by the CPI-M leader, Mr Biman Bose, in another context ~ “No party can win an election merely by rigging and impersonation.” The inescapable message of the election must be that there is today a multiplicity of parties in Tripura’s political spectrum, quite a change from the monolithic rule of the CPI-M for a quarter of a century. It bears recall that when the agrarian movement in Singur and Nandigram was at its peak, the standing of the CPI-M in Tripura was rated to be higher than in West Bengal.

In a sense, it has been a vote for continuity ~ as it now exists ~ and not a reverse swing, despite the virulent tirade of the Opposition, of a kind that posited Trinamul and the CPI-M on the same page, so to speak. At the same time, it must be said that thanks to the Trinamul, the Opposition has gained space in Tripura. A concerted effort now deserves to be initiated by the BJP to govern the state in the best manner possible, for the Trinamul will surely be snapping at its heels. The porous border with Bangladesh makes good governance even more important.