The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) along with its tribal partner yesterday pulled off a historic victory to storm to power in Tripura, sweeping 43 of the 59 seats for which elections were held and ousting the Communist government that had had ruled the northeastern state for 25 years.
The BJP on its own comfortably managed an absolute majority with its candidates winning in 33 seats and leading in two more in the 60-member assembly while its ally, the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), wrested eight.
A virtual political non-entity all these years in the tiny Communist Party of India (Marxist) party’s citadel, the BJP had drawn a blank in terms of seats and secured only 1.5% of votes in the assembly polls five years back.
But the saffron outfit along with its tribal party ally comfortably managed a two-thirds majority this time.
Elections were held for 59 seats and postponed in one (tribal reserve Charilam seat) following the death of a ruling CPM candidate a week before the February 18 polls.
The CPM-led Left Front, which has ruled the state uninterrupted for the past quarter of a century, was far behind, with its candidates winning 11 seats and leading in five while its junior partners the Communist Party of India (CPI), Forward Bloc and Revolutionary Socialist Party drew a blank after contesting one seat each.
In the last elections in 2013, the LF had secured 50 seats while the remaining 10 seats went to the Congress, which this time could not open its account.
For the BJP, apart from its first-time victory in Tripura, it was a cause for big celebration, as along with its partner IPFT, it has captured another northeastern state after Assam, Manipur, Nagaland (where also votes cast were being counted during the day) and Arunachal Pradesh.
Tripura BJP president Biplab Kumar Deb (Banamalipur), BJP nominees Sudip Roy Barman (Agartala), Ratanlal Nath (Mohanpur), Rampada Jamatia (Bagma), Dilip Kumar Das (Barjala), Diba Chandra Hrangkhawl (Karamchara) and Ashish Kumar Saha (Bordowali) are the saffron party’s notable winners.
All the seven Congress legislators who joined the BJP last year won.
IPFT candidates, including party president Narendra Chandra Debbarma (Takarjala), general secretary Mevar Kumar Jamatia (Asharambari) and Prashanta Debbarma (Ramchandraghat) have been elected to the state assembly for the first time.
Five Left Front ministers lost.
CPM legislator and Tribal Welfare Minister Aghore Debbarma (Asharambari), Transport and Power Minister Manik Dey (Majlispur), Forest and Rural Development Minister Narensh Chandra Jamatia (Bagma), Fisheries and Co-operatives Minister Khagendra Jamatia (who, however, died on Friday due to cancer), Deputy Speaker Pabitra Kar (Khayerpur) and the Left Front’s chief whip, Basudeb Majumder (Belonia), are among the important losers.
CPI nominee and Jail and Printing and Stationary Minister Manindra Reang lost his Santir Bazar seat.
Chief Minister and CPM politburo member Manik Sarkar (Dhanpur) was leading in the vote count while Health Minister Badal Choudhury (Hrishamukh), Education Minister Tapan Chakraborty (Chandipur), Information, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Bhanulal Saha (Bishalgarh), Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Sahid Chowdhury and Assembly Speaker Ramendra Chandra Debnath are among the notable LF winners.
A total of 290 candidates, including 23 women, of the ruling CPM, CPI, BJP and Congress and many independents, were in the race.
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