Tripura BJP sets May 31 deadline for nine MLAs from rival parties to cross over

Tripura goes to the polls next year and the BJP is making a determined bid to uproot the Left Front, which has been ruling the state since 1993.

india Updated: May 17, 2017 22:20 IST
Priyanka Deb Barman
Priyanka Deb Barman
Hindustan Times, Agartala
BJP president Amit Shah waves to supporters after arriving at Agartala recently. Left-ruled Tripura goes to the polls next year. (PTI)

The BJP has set a May 31 deadline for nine MLAs from two rival parties in Tripura to switch over to the saffron brigade, raising the stakes in its bid to capture power in the only Left-ruled state in the northeast.

Tripura goes to the polls next year and the BJP is making a determined bid to uproot the Left Front which is ruling the state since 1993. The BJP is already in power in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur and is part of the ruling alliance in Nagaland.

“It was decided to ask the nine MLAs of the opposition parties to join BJP within the end of May without having any pre-condition. Many of them have met me too. Still, their decision is not fully clear,” said Biplab Kumar Deb, the BJP’s Tripura unit president.

“Or else, we will field our own candidates in all the 60 assembly seats to contest with the Left Front,” Deb told told Hindustan Times over the phone after a party meeting in Guwahati recently.

Of the nine MLAs, six are from Trinamool Congress and three from Congress. The Left Front has the remaining 51 seats in the assembly.

The six TMC legislators had ditched the Congress in June last year in protest against the grand old party’s understanding with the CPM in West Bengal. The Tripura assembly recognised the six legislators as Trinamool Congress MLAs on August 29.

Over the past few days, more than 1,200 Trinamool Congress leaders, members, and supporters have joined the BJP, indicating the scale at which the saffron party was poaching on its competitors.

The Guwahati meeting was attended by BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav, the party’s Tripura prabhari Sunil Deodhar and Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who had switched over from the Congress ahead of the assembly polls last year.

Sarma is credited with scripting the BJP’s spectacular victory in Assam to end the Congress’s 15-year rule.

Reacting to the BJP deadline, TMC president Asish Saha said the party was focusing on strengthening the organisation. He said the aim was to prevent division of anti-Left votes in next year’s polls.

Tripura is one of three north-eastern states where assembly elections are scheduled in 2018. The other two are Nagaland and Meghalaya, where the BJP is confident of displacing the Congress-led coalition.

First Published: May 17, 2017 22:19 IST