The Congress is in big trouble in the north-eastern states after it lost Arunachal Pradesh to dissidence and Assam assembly polls to a BJP-led alliance this year.
On Tuesday, Tripura added to the grand old party’s misery in the region after six of its MLAs joined Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC). Another Congress MLA resigned and applied for CPI(M) membership, bringing the party’s seats in the 60-member Tripura assembly down from 10 to three.
The Tripura development followed the call of a banned Meghalaya outfit – Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) – to overthrow the ‘dictatorial and inefficient’ Mukul Sangma, the state’s chief minister. The outfit also threatened to blow up the state Congress headquarters in Shillong.
Sangma’s Congress government in instability-prone Meghalaya has been battling dissidence since his wife Dikkanchi D Shira lost the May by-poll for the Tura Lok Sabha seat. Former chief ministers and veteran Congress leaders DD Lapang and Salseng C Marak are allegedly leading the rebellion against the chief minister.
Sangma was expected to shuffle his cabinet in a bid to placate the rebels when HNLC issued the threat. “We have a mechanism to verify if HNCL has any nexus with any political leader or group of politicians demanding change of leadership,” Sangma said.
Insisting his government was safe, Sangma told HT: ““It is not a question of dissidence but of grievances blown out of proportions. But we have checked the forces of destabilisation, including the BJP.”
The BJP, for a change, did not have a hand in weakening the Congress in Tripura. TMC cashed in on the anger of the Congress MLAs who were opposed to the poll pact between the Congress and Left Front in West Bengal.
The Left Front – which has 50 MLAs – is the Congress’ main rival in Tripura. The CPI(M) in particular has been edging it out since the 1993 assembly polls.
“We promised poriborton (change), and it has begun,” TMC vice-president Mukul Roy said in Agartala after the six Congress MLAs sent a formal letter to assembly speaker Ramendra Debnath and joined his party.
Barman said: “TMC will do what the Congress couldn’t. This is the beginning of the end of the Left Front in Tripura.”