The BJP is set to retain Tripura, an aggregate of three exit polls showed on Monday, following a closely-watched multi-cornered contest. The BJP could win about 31 of 60 seats, while the Left-Congress alliance could score 15 and the Tipra Motha 13, the polls said. Exit polls often get the result wrong, and the Election Commission is set to count the votes on March 2.
Tripura voted on February 16, seeing nearly 88 per cent turnout with “largely peaceful” polling, according to the Election Commission.
Several parties, including the state Congress unit, alleged voter fraud and attempts to compromise the polls in some constituencies. At least one person was injured in clashes between The polling authorities responded that the complaints had been forwarded to the officials concerned.
All key leaders of the state expressed confidence about a good show by their respective parties. Chief Minister Manik Saha said he was positive about the results. Tipra Motha leader Pradyot Manikya Debbarma, whose party is being seen as the X-factor in this election, said he was sure of a good show.
For more than 30 years, Tripura was ruled by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) till the upset in 2018, when the BJP won 36 of the 60 seats in a state where it practically had no presence. Though the score pushed the BJP well above the majority mark of 31, it still formed an alliance with regional IPFT (Indigenous Progressive Front of Tripura) – which got eight seats — as insurance against any defection by its MLAs.
The CPM, which ruled Tripura for 35 years, has joined forces with the Congress this time, and its campaign was led by its four-time Chief Minister Manik Sarkar. The Left Front contested 47 of the state’s 60 seats, leaving just 13 seats for the Congress.
While the CPM won 16 seats in 2018, the Congress – the main opposition in the previous assembly — scored zero. The CPM is hoping that their alliance will help add votes in around 13 seats. But the alliance has raised eyebrows among the Kerala units of both parties where they have been sworn enemies for decades.
The Tipra Motha – the new party formed by former royal Pradyot Kishore Debbarma with a core demand of Greater Tipraland — might queer the pitch for the BJP. While the BJP has the local party IPFT in its corner, its hold on some seats has loosened over the last five years. In 2021, IPFT was wiped out in the Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council polls and had to accept only five seats to contest in this election.
The BJP had initially attempted to build a rapport with the Tipra Motha, but its overtures were met with a rebuff. After the BJP declared that it would not allow any division of Tripura, the Tipra Motha also hardened its stand, flinging Union minister Amit Shah’s allegation of its being the “B Team of CPM-Congress” back at the BJP.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the BJP’s troubleshooter in the northeast, has predicted a hugely improved performance by the party in all three northeastern states that are going to polls in this round. Elections are due in Meghalaya and Nagaland on February 27.
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