From a marginal player in Tripura politics, BJP has turned the State saffron. But major battles lie ahead in India’s heartland.
The Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday not only breached the CPM bastion in Tripura but left it in tatters ending the Left party’s two decade-old dominance. That was the big talking point in the Northeast elections.
From being just a marginal player in the last elections, where over 50 per cent of its candidates lost their deposit, the BJP has stormed to power in Tripura in the current polls with a clear majority on its own and has support of its alliance partner — the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT).
The CPM now is in power only in Kerala and many poked fun at the Red party asking it to change its name from Communist Party Marxist to Kerala Party Marxist. Party supremo Sitaram Yechury put out a lame excuse saying it was money and muscle power that led to BJP win in Tripura.
Of the three states that went to polls, Tripura was the most keenly watched for being the last Left bastion in the country. Manik Sarkar, the 69-year- old outgoing chief minister, has governed Tripura since 1998. A politburo member of CPI-M, he had been at the helm for the fourth consecutive time.
The Congress is to blame for giving victory on a platter to the BJP in Tripura. The party neglected the state and was never seen as a serious player. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had advised the Congress to enter into an alliance with the regional parties. But nobody in the Congress had time or the inclination to listen to her.
Meghalaya elected a hung assembly. BJP likely to form Goverment in Nagaland
While Meghalaya elected a hung assembly, the BJP is likely to form a government in Nagaland after the independent candidate, the JD(U), which only on March 1 had issued a letter of support to Nagaland CM Zeliang, now said will back the BJP.
With the JD(U) and the independent candidate, the BJP-NDPP alliance has 31 seats, which is the majority mark.
The Congress, which was in power in Meghalaya since May 2009, failed to win a majority but emerged the single largest party with 21 seats.
Reacting to the results, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said “It is a journey from no one to number one, from ‘shoonya to shikhar’ (zero to pinnacle).” He described BJP chief Amit Shah as the “sculptor” of the party’s victory march.
In Tripura, the BJP alliance swept the polls winning 43 of the 59 seats leaving the CPM red-faced with just 16 seats. Meghalaya is heading for a hung assembly with the Congress capturing 21 of the 59 seats that went to polls, the NPP 19, others 17 and BJP 2. But the Congress has expressed confidence of forming the next government. In Nagaland, the NPF won 29 of the 59 seats, the BJP 18 and others 3.
While the BJP might be very pleased at the victory in the northeast poll battles, the real war lies ahead in India’s heartland where the BJP is facing a daunting task. The next to go to polls would be Karnataka – sometime in March/April. If the BJP manages to win this southern state, Modi might advance the 2019 general elections to club it with the polls to the Assemblies in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan later this year.
Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan would be tough for the BJP. The bypolls have shown that the Congress is on an upswing with young leaders like Sachin Pilot in Rajasthan and Jyothiraditiya Scinda in Madhya Pradesh emerging as CM candidates and leading from the front with lot of conviction. The youth and the aspirational middle class would, in all probability, back the young leaders.
BJP has a tough year ahead.