Analysis of Tripura LA election 2023 – An attempt thereof

Biswanath Bhattacharya

March 13, 2023, 09:46:16   

Analysis of Tripura  LA election 2023 – An attempt thereof

The recent conduct of the Tripura Legislative Assembly Election , 2023 has  surely added an extra  feather in the  illustrious career of 1975 born IAS officer Kiran Gitte. In Tripura , election without rigging of votes, intimidation , flexing of muscle power and booth capturing was unheard of. The recent addendum was the murderous assault of the Bike squad formed by a political party.
But it is to the credit of Shri Gitte that that he could rise to the height of the occasion and take stock of every conceivable threat towards the holding of absolutely peaceful and fair election . And the resultant effect is a model Election- unheard of in recent times.  . 
Shri Gitte has become a role model for the country to follow. Even his bitterest foe could tell that the process and conduct of the Assembly Election, 2023 was not only absolutely free and free fair but a model one for the posterity to follow. . We used to see such type of fair election in the era of Sachindra Lal Singha or Sukhamoy Sengupta but thereafter the total process had been polluted with  passage of every year and the last nail in the coffin of the  model election process was stuck  in 1988. 1988 is the saddest chapter in the history of Tripura so far as  conduct of free and fair election is concerned.  Rajiv Gandhi used army as trump card to sweep out Marxists in Tripura. And Santosh Mohan Dev ,the central Minister used to be called ignominiously Santrash Mohan Dev for letting loose unprecedented terror and trauma while rigging the election . The very fabric of the democracy was shamelessly raped in broad daylight in 1988.
Now in 2023 , the contest was mainly triangular – in one side was BJP , in the other side was Left Front and Congress combine and the third one was Tipra Motha formed by the royal scion Pradyot Kishore Debbarman.
The BJP played the development card and the advantage of the double engine- same Government in the Centre and the State. Development with a special focus on the overall upliftment of indigenous people was the main poll plank of the BJP-IPFT combine in the  recently concluded  election
The Left Front and the Congress played Change card-  Change from murder , rape , abduction , vote loot and abysmal breakdown of  Law and order. And they were more than confident that they would snatch the power from BJP.
And the Tipra Motha played the Greater Tipra Land card. ‘Greater Tipraland’ is essentially an extension of the ruling tribal partner Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura – IPFT’s demand of Tipraland, which sought a separate state for tribals of Tripura. The new demand seeks to include every tribal person living in indigenous area or village outside the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) under the proposed model. However, the idea doesn’t restrict to simply the Tripura tribal council areas but seeks to include ‘Tiprasa’ or Tripuris spread across different states of India like Assam, Mizoram etc. as well as even those living in Bandarban, Chittagong, Khagrachari and other bordering areas of neighbouring Bangladesh. 
The aspiration of the tribal populace was stoked at the highest level. But sensing that it is a utopian idea , Maharaj  ultimately scaled down to autonomy, thus baffling the  tribal populace of the state . The term ‘ Greater Tipra Land ‘ demand completely withered away .
While the BJP returned to power, the party’s seat tally, vote share and average victory margin declined in comparison to the 2018 Assembly election results. In 2018, the BJP had won 36 seats by an average winning margin of 4,606 votes and secured a vote share of 43.59 per cent. In 2023, while the BJP tally came down to 32, its average victory margin was 3,458 votes and its vote share 38.97 per cent.
Hours after the Tripura Assembly election results were announced, the Left Front and the Congress, which had a pre-poll seat-sharing agreement to collectively take on the BJP, were still in shock.
Much hype around the ‘first-ever’ partnership between these two former rivals in Tripura was centred on the claim that they had come together to defeat the BJP and “restore democracy and rule of Constitution” in the state. But together, the CPI(M) managed to get 11 seats while Congress got three.
The results show an upward trend for the Congress, which had drawn a blank in 2018, and managed to secure one seat in 2022 when Sudip Roy Barman, who had earlier quit the Congress to join the BJP, returned to the party and won a by-election.
But for the CPI(M), the results have been gloomy to say the least, as the party’s tally of 16 MLAs in 2018 fell to 11 this year. The CPI(M)’s vote share also suffered a drastic fall, as the party slumped to 24.62 per cent votes from 42.22 per cent in 2018. Meanwhile, the Congress’s vote share went up from below 2 per cent in 2018 to 8.56 per cent in 2023.
Political experts feel while the Left vote share helped bolster Congress’s prospects, the Congress voters didn’t “transfer” their votes to the Left in equal measure. On its part, the Left Front has said the BJP has secured a majority with a small margin of seats and added that huge amounts of money were pumped in to influence the outcome.
It is also to be mentioned that in one of his video clips I heard Pradyot Kishore saying that each party should contest in such constituencies only where it holds sway. If it is so , why Tipra Motha fielded candidates in other 22 constituencies where it is significantly weak. 

Having said this,  it is true that Tipra Motha has every right to field candidate in every assembly seat , but it surely betrays  the party’s pre-election  proclamation.
But the political pundits say that the fielding of 42 candidates in 42 constituencies  vis-à-vis his effective strength in only 20 indigenous dominated people is farfetched ploy to outwit the Left and Congress alliance . It  also speaks  of his  supposed clandestine alliance with BJP. The cat is completely out of the bag when the Royal Scion met Amit Shah and completely backed out from his demand of greater Tipra Land when he agreed to the assertion of the  Union Home Minister Amit Shah of appointing an  interlocutor to arrive at a constitutional solution to all the problems of the State’s 14 lakh Tiprasa, or indigenous people across 19 tribes.
The much-vaunted King Maker is now a simply pawn of the BJP