The political scenario of Tripura has undergone a tectonic shift during the past one year. Until now, the BJP has always been a minnow without any real chance of winning any seats. The symbol of the party could be seen in public only a month or two before the elections and nobody really was interested in them at all. There was no serious structural organization, no vision and no real determination. But with Himanta Biswa Sharma taking over the reigns of the North East for the BJP, the Tripura state unit was rejuvenated and galvanized into a machine capable of producing the desired results.
Tripura has been rocked by protests from Tribals demanding a separate state, upset over the utter lack of development in areas dominated by tribals. Earlier, it was unthinkable that tribals could contemplate voting for any party other than the CPI(M) but times, they have changed. And along came the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT). After a long series of negotiations with the Saffron Party, ultimately they agreed on 9 seats for the IPFT. As of the moment of writing this article, the IPFT is leading on 8 out of the 9 it contested.
After the alliance was finalized, the tribals gave up their demands of a separate state and instead looked forward to ushering in a new era of prosperity working with the BJP. The IPFT has contested from Simna and Mandaibazar constituencies in West Tripura, Takarjala in Sipahijala district, Ampinagar in Gomati district, Manu in South Tripura, Raima Valley in Dhalai, Ramchandraghat and Asharambari in Khowai district and Kanchanpur constituency in North Tripura. In a joint statement, the parties said, “After assuming power and forming the government, the BJP-IPFT(NC) alliance will draw a roadmap for the functioning of the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (ADC). The investigation into the corruption cases will be carried out by the appropriate agency once the new government is formed.”
2013 Assembly Elections in the state showed that the CPI(M) was indeed vulnerable. Of course, the communist party went on to win 49 seats that year but the campaign reflected the deep frustration within large sections of the population with the party. During the next 5 years, the frustration has only festered. And Amit Shah is too ruthless to not pluck a fruit that is ripe for the taking. The alliance between the IPFT and the BJP has indeed proven to be the proverbial nail in the coffin for the CPI(M) it looks at the moment as Tripura looks set to turn saffron with the alliance being ahead in 39 out of the total 60 seats (at 11:52AM, according to the EC website).