Tripura 2023 polls: 3rd force hurt Congress-Left, BJP prospects
Did the TMP hurt the BJP or the Left-Congress alliance in its debut ? A comparison of BJP-IPFT and Left-Congress (they were not in alliance last time) vote shares from 2018 shows that both these formations have lost votes to the TMP, especially in ST reserved assembly constituencies
Numbers speak for themselves. The TIPRA Motha Party (TMP) contested its first-ever election . It contested 42 of the 60 assembly constituencies in the state and managed to win 13 of these with an overall vote share of 19.7%.
Is this a feat to reckon with in the northeastern state? In the 12 assembly elections which Tripura has had since 1967, data for which is available in the Trivedi Centre for Political Data database, the ruling and opposition party or alliance have had a combined seat share of at least 85%. This number has been higher than 90% in elections held from 1993. This is to say that a third force has not been a significant factor in Tripura in a long time. The arrival of the TMP — if it remains committed to its trajectory as a third political force in Tripura — will change this.
How did the TMP achieve this feat? The short answer to this question is that it played to its strengths by focusing on assembly constituencies which have a higher share of Scheduled Tribes (ST) population in the state. Of the 60 assembly constituencies in Tripura, 10 are reserved for Scheduled Castes (SC) candidates while another 20 are reserved for ST candidates. All of the TMP’s 13 MLAs have come from ST-reserved assembly constituencies in these elections. In fact, if one were to look at the TMP’s performance even in terms of vote share in ST-reserved and other assembly constituencies in the state, there is a big difference.
See Chart 1: TMP seat share and vote share in ST and non ST assembly constituencies
Did the TMP hurt the BJP or the Left-Congress alliance in its debut ? A comparison of BJP-IPFT and Left-Congress (they were not in alliance last time) vote shares from 2018 shows that both these formations have lost votes to the TMP, especially in ST reserved assembly constituencies.
Tripura’s politics has consistently seen a tension between its ST and Bengali-speaking voters. The TMP’s impressive political debut in these elections suggests that the contradiction has not changed after five years of BJP rule as well.