Tripura assembly election 2023: Modi makes a ‘double engine’ pitch
The BJP used the “double engine” growth pitch prominently during the election campaign for Uttar Pradesh last year, alluding to potential benefits of having a government run by the same party at the Centre and the state
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday made a “double engine” pitch to urge people in Tripura to vote the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) back to power, while also hitting out at the Congress-Left coalition that he accused of “wrestling in Kerala but being friends in Tripura”.
Modi made the remarks during two events in the state, which will hold elections for the state assembly on February 16, in what were the Prime Minister’s first high-profile events since the elections were announced.
“Old players of misgovernance have joined hands for ‘chanda’ (donation). Those fighting ‘kushti’ (wrestling) in Kerala have done ‘dosti’ (friendship) in Tripura,” the PM said at an election rally in Radhakishorepur in Gomati district.
He drew a contrast, saying the BJP government had instead created good governance in the past five years.
“Tripura has decided not to stop the development journey. There is only one slogan in Tripura — phir ekbar double-engine ki sarkar (a double-engine government once more),” said Modi, while addressing a rally at Thakurpally paddy fields in Kulai of Dhalai district earlier in the day.
The BJP used the “double engine” growth pitch prominently during the election campaign for Uttar Pradesh last year, alluding to potential benefits of having a government run by the same party at the Centre and the state.
On BJP’s main challengers, the Left-Congress combine, Modi said that the state “fell backward in terms of development during their regime”.
“The Left and the Congress had pushed Tripura to backwardness but our government brought the state to the track of speedy development only in five years. Now the Left and Congress have forged alliance. Each and every vote that goes to them will push the state backwards,” said Modi.
He also cautioned people that the Left-Congress would stop every scheme from reaching to people that make their lives comfortable if they are voted to power.
Hitting back, Congress leader Asish Kumar Saha said, “The democracy was throttled in BJP regime. We want to pay respect to the people’s aspirations. This poll is important to restore democratic rights of the people.”
Reacting to the PM’s speech comments, CPI(M) state secretary Jitendra Chaudhury said, “It is really unfortunate that he (PM) could not elevate himself from a party leader. His speech lacked any developmental policy. Secondly, we want to ask whether NDA government was formed without any alliance or Tripura’s BJP formed government without any alliance. We all know the answers. Then, why he is criticizing other parties about alliance.”
Modi said Tripura was known for violence and backwardness prior to BJP’s government. “One can see example of change in the situation of the state by observing flags of different parties set up here. But five years back, only one party had permission to set up their flags. We have freed Tripura from fear and violence atmosphere. The CPI(M) earlier used to control police station but BJP established rule of law,” said Modi.
Later, in a reference without naming the TIPRA Motha party, he said that the outfit is supporting the Left-Congress secretly and if any vote go to it, the state’s development will suffer.
TIPRA Motha, a regional political party, was floated by royal scion Pradyot Kishore Debbarma in 2021. Within two months of its formation, the party came to power in the 28-seated Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC), replacing Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) from power.
Speaking about his HIRA (Highways, Internet, Railways, Airways) model of development promised ahead of 2018 polls, Modi said a two-lane national highway have been converted to four lanes, 5,000 kilometres of roads have been constructed to connect all the villages, ensured all villages to get benefits of optical fibre internet connectivity, and a new airport was inaugurated in last five years.
“Tripura is moving forward to become gateway of South Asia,” he said.
The PM added that his party focuses on three pillars of “Awas ( housing), Aarogya ( health) and Aay ( income)”, while adding that 300,000 homes were constructed for poor people under PM Awas Yojana, over 200,000 people were given treatment of serious illnesses under Ayushman Bharat Yojana, over 400,000 houses got drinking water and toilets, and another 300,000 houses were provided gas connections in the last five years.
Supporters of the party thronged the venue with party flags and posters of Modi, shouting the slogan “Tripuray abar BJP sarkar”.
The Prime Minister is expected to join another poll rally on February 13 to conclude the party’s campaign.
Veteran poll analyst Chandan Dey said, “The CPM is expected to gain some seats. Whether the Left-Congress combine will go the last mile or not, is not certain now. But if the TIPRA Motha would have joined the alliance, it would have been a tough poll battle for BJP.”
The BJP stormed to power in 2018 in alliance with a regional party, Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT).
The Left and Congress came together to contest the Assembly polls based on seat sharing adjustment according to which the CPM fielded candidates in 43 seats with one each to Forward Bloc, Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and Communist Party of India (CPI) leaving 13 seats for Congress.
The Left will support an independent candidate in Ramnagar constituency against BJP legislator Surajit Datta. BJP fielded 55 candidates and its ally IPFT will contest in six seats. TIPRA Motha will contest in 42 seats while Trinamool Congress fielded candidates in 28 seats.
Votes will be counted on March 2.