Here’s how TMC is reading the Tripura election results all wrong

Lenin has been uprooted in Tripura bringing an end to two and a half decade of the communist rule in the state.

Last few days have seen fervent reactions from different political quarters, right from Sitaram Yechury blaming everything under the sun other than the misrule of his party for such a debacle to veteran party leader V S Achuthanandan urging the party leadership to join hands with secular forces to fight the Sangh Parivar. Quite understandably Sitaram Yechury is putting up a brave face in a scenario where the Communists of India are Left in just one state and by that, I don’t mean Kerala but the  “dilapidated state” they seem to be in.

Lenin is symbolic of the communist rule in Tripura which left the populace in abject poverty and encouraged a culture of violent politics in the state. Lenin was that giant tree for the state of Tripura. With the fall of Lenin, the earth shook and the worst effect of the tremors was felt in Mamata Banerjee’s West Bengal. She reacted to the verdict and tried to play it cool, but the panic was evident because if Mamata Banerjee is defending the Left, any political observer would realise that there is something extremely unusual. One simple reason behind the panic is the fact that this time the epicentre of the political earthquake was quite close, not just geographically but culturally and politically as well.

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Statements made by her and her lieutenant Derek O’Brien in the last couple of days made me dive deep in the Tripura Results.

Mamata blamed the Congress party for this defeat and remarked that if Rahul Gandhi would have chosen All India Trinamool Congress as alliance partner then the results would have been different in Tripura. In the light of this statement, I would like to present some facts which might bring some perspective to her statement.

TMC (Trinamool Congress) contested 24 Seats in Tripura (seat of Charilam where elections will take place on 15th excluded) and the biggest challenger for TMC in all these 24 seats is not BJP or CPIM not even Congress. Voila! It’s NOTA (None of the Above). NOTA has 8,752 votes in these 24 seats put together, the TMC has 6,989. Forget BJP, if TMC would have contested against NOTA they would have lost there as well. If we dig further, we find that in a straight fight with NOTA, TMC would have lost 18 out 24 Seats, so much so that TMC would have lost the seat where they have got maximum votes, that is 435 votes in Joliabari because NOTA polled 479 votes there. This was the story as far as TMC standalone is concerned.

Mamata Banerjee spoke of Congress+TMC. The combined votes of INC+TMC is at an average of 4% of the votes which the winners polled irrespective of whether its Left or BJP. I reiterate that it’s 4% of winner’s votes, not the total votes cast in a constituency. Finally, as a garnishing touch, we can also note that INC and TMC together would have lost 4 seats to NOTA namely Ashrambari, Bagma, Chawamanu and Hrishyamukh and would have barely scraped through in another 4.

Going a step further, I created a hypothetical “Mahagatdbandan” in Tripura comprising of CPI(M) + INC + TMC. Even then, the final result of Tripura elections would have been almost same. BJP+IPFT would still be forming the government with 41 MLAs as in this scenario BJP might have lost Nalchar Seat by 143 Votes and Panisagar by 243 Votes. I completely acknowledge the fact that in case of a Mahagatbandhan, things won’t have added mathematically but it could have been worse for anti-BJP forces because that could have created a counter ‘Mahagatbandhan’ of voters.

On the other hand, if there would have a swing of mere 450 Votes in favour of BJP the tally would have been BJP + IPFT – 46 –  CPI(M) – 13 since BJP lost Bagbassa, Chandipur and Manu by less 450 Votes.

Interestingly, Amra Bangalee Party, a relatively unknown party from Tripura, got a total of 5,646 votes compared to TMC’s 6,989 votes in the state. TMC got Whopping 24% more votes than its competitor in this contest.

However, these numbers and data can only be crunched once the election is over, what needs to be looked into is the decisive shift of voters towards BJP-IPFT alliance. First of all, it shifted from all parties towards NDA alliance and not just from the Left. So, yearning for better living condition propelled this shifting of votes across ideological affiliations.

From the results, it’s evident that it was positive polling for the “change” promised by NDA coupled with the complete disillusionment from “charity model of development”. This change momentum was riding on the back of first-time voters aligned with what the NDA was promising. BJP scored big there, as it had several examples to showcase like Gujrat, Madhya Pradesh Rajasthan and now U.P as well. BJP with immense hard work created an on-ground organisational structure which could reap the benefit of such anti-incumbency and convert that sentiment into votes.

It was a polarised election and when I say that I don’t refer to the communal polarisation, I’m talking about ideological polarisation between status quo of CPIM vs the verifiable developmental agenda of the BJP.

Why is the TMC leadership so nervous?

This is the first time in Indian political history that the Left has been so crushingly defeated by the Right Wing. Traditionally, Left has always been replaced by Centrist Parties which we have seen in Kerala, Tripura and West Bengal in past. If one could read the signals right, BJP is positioning itself as a more progressive alternative to Left than current TMC, which means they plan to do a Tripura in Bengal. Feedback from Bengal suggests that BJP is working hard to achieve this.

It is high time TMC and its leaders understand that people cannot be fooled, nor can they be threatened. They should stop belittling the mandate of people in smaller states. India is made up of 29 states with very diverse cultural and political realities and thus every mandate is significant.

Tripura saw BJP taking over a fort ruled by the Left, a fort that sends 2 MP’s and constitutes 0.3% of the populations. If TMC does not take corrective action, next fort will be the state which sends 42 MPs and has 7.5% of Indian population.

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