Tripura polls: Congress- CPM join hands to dethrone BJP
While CPM and other Left parties are contesting in 47 seats, Congress, despite dissatisfaction in party ranks, agreed on putting up candidates in the rest 13 seats of the total 60
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Congress, two bitter rivals in Tripura’s political landscape, have come together for the first time for the upcoming assembly elections with the aim of dislodging the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
While CPM was in power in the northeastern state for five consecutive terms till the last election in 2018, for Congress, it’s been 35 years outside power. But with a common aim to dethrone the BJP, the two parties are clutching each other’s hands this time.
CPM and other Left parties are contesting in 47 seats, while Congress, despite dissatisfaction in party ranks, agreed on putting up candidates in the rest 13 seats of the total 60. They announced their alliance last week.
“We have only got 13 seats, but it is not the ground reality. We were equally strong. We didn’t want BJP to get any advantage due to the split in opposition votes therefore we did it for the sake of the people and Tripura,” said senior Congress leader Sudip Roy Barman.
Barman, 56, has been witness to better days of Congress in Tripura. Since 1998, he has won from the prestigious Agartala seat consecutively for five terms—the first four on Congress tickets and in 2018 as a BJP candidate.
Barman, who served as the health minister in the BJP government in February last year, quit the BJP following differences with party leaders and joined the Indian National Congress (INC). Again in June 2022, he contested from the Agartala constituency and won on an INC ticket defeating his nearest BJP candidate by more than 3500 votes.
“We don’t have a tie-up or alliance with CPM, it is just a seat adjustment but people are thinking of it as an alliance. Due to the ‘jungle-raj’ of BJP in Tripura, even we were under immense pressure from our workers, who, despite being at loggerheads with CPM for the last few decades, wanted to forget all our differences and come together for the sake of the state with the aim of defeating BJP,” said Barman.
Figures show that BJP’s rise in Tripura in the last five years has been largely at the cost of Congress. In 2013, Congress bagged 10 seats and cornered 36.53% of the total votes. In contrast, the BJP, which contested 50 seats, didn’t win any and got just 1.54% of the total votes.
On the other hand, CPM got 48.11% of all votes in 2013 and bagged 49 seats. Though the party lost to BJP in 2018, it won 16 seats and got 42.22% of the total votes. BJP won 35 of the total 60 seats.
With barely a few days left for polling on February 16, Congress’ campaign has also gained momentum. As part of its campaign strategy, Congress is going house to house, taking out foot marches and conducting small meetings.
Though they are contesting from just 13 seats, the Congress leader hoped to bag at least 10, a party leader said.
The 2023 Tripura legislative assembly election is scheduled for February 16 2023 to elect all 60 members. The counting of votes will take place on March 2.