2018 assembly elections: Amit Shah says Tripura is BJP’s next target
Tripura is the only Left-ruled state among the four states where elections are to be held in 2018.india Updated: May 07, 2017 01:24 IST
Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah on Saturday underlined the party’s “target” to form a government in Tripura and overtake the Left-front before ensuring a ‘Congress-free’ Northeast.
Shah is in Tripura on a two-day visit to prepare the party’s victory plan in the assembly election scheduled next year. His tour concludes on Sunday with a ‘parivartan sankalp rally’ at Kumarghat, about 150km from state capital Agartala.
Tripura is the only Left-ruled state among the four states where elections are to be held in 2018. Congress rules Mizoram and leads a coalition government in Meghalaya while Naga People’s Front, a BJP ally, is in control of Nagaland.
Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur have BJP governments.
Shah’s visit, part of his 95-day nationwide tour for expanding the BJP’s footprint, began with a 5km roadshow from the airport to the city. The turnout was sizeable for a party that was nowhere on Tripura’s political horizon before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
The BJP president said conquering Tripura was one of his party’s top priorities. “Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP has formed governments in Haryana, Maharashtra and in the Northeast. Our next target in the region is Tripura,” he said.
Manik Sarkar’s government has done little besides indulging in corruption, organising political attacks and facilitating infiltration of Bangladeshis in more than two decades of rule, Shah said.
“The Congress era is coming to an end. I believe people of Tripura are yearning for a change and want BJP as the alternative to communist rule,” Shah said.
He was non-committal about any alliance but admitted that regional parties have helped BJP gain foothold in the region.
State BJP leaders hope Shah’s visit will energise the party for “breaking the backbone” of the otherwise deeply-entrenched Left Front in Tripura. They expect a huge turnout for Shah’s Sunday rally.
The BJP has seen a jump in membership from 15,000 in 2014 to more than 21 lakh now. The party’s state unit chief Biplab Kumar Deb attributed it to Modi’s popularity besides Shah’s last visit to the state in April 2015.
In all elections held after 2014, the BJP replaced Congress – earlier the main opposition party – in the second spot behind the CPI-M or associate Left parties. In the 2013 assembly election, 47 of BJP’s 50 candidates had lost even their deposits.
Deb said more than 5,000 communist cadres and many from Trinamool Congress joined the BJP after the Manipur assembly election outcome.
BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav, secretary (Northeast) Ajay Jamwal, the party’s Tripura in-charge Sunil Deodhar and minister of state for health Faggan Singh Kulaste are accompanying Shah in his Tripura trip.
(with inputs from Kumar Uttam)