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Tripura elections: Back-to-back hike in DA can prove to be a game changer for the BJP. Here is why

The Left Front ruled Tripura continuously for over 25 years (1993-2018). While the rest of the country witnessed tremendous economic growth, the State was wrecked by the policies of the Left regime. In this context, the successive hike in DA can cement the BJP rule for the foreseeable future.

On Tuesday (December 27), the BJP-led Tripura government announced a 12% increase in dearness allowance (DA) for State government employees. Similarly, a 12% hike in dearness relief (DR) was also announced for the state government pensioners including family pensioners.

The development comes months before the upcoming Vidhan Sabha elections, which are expected to take place in February 2023. The surprise move by the BJP government is set to benefit a whopping 1,04,600 regular employees and over 80,800 pensioners.

Besides, the wages of more than 8,600 non-regular employees including daily-rated workers (DRW), contingent, monthly-rated workers (MRW), and part-time workers have also been revised.

The new remunerations will be effective, starting with the salary/pension of December 2022. Earlier in August this year, the Tripura government had announced an additional 5% hike in the dearness allowance (DA) and dearness relief (DR) of State-govt employees and pensioners.

In February last year, the BJP government revised the DA and DR of regular employees and pensioners by 3%. Thus, so far the net hike in DA and DR between February 2021 and December 2022 has been 20%.

Understanding the politics behind the numbers

The Left Front ruled Tripura continuously for over 25 years (1993-2018). While the rest of the country witnessed tremendous economic growth, the State was wrecked by the policies of the Left regime (first under Chief Minister Dasarath Deb and then under Manik Sarkar).

State government employees (mostly teachers) were forced to work for low salaries, with prolonged periods of no revision. As per a report by The Hindustan Times, Tripura employees were still stuck on the 4th Pay Commission scale (prevalent in the late 1980s) even in 2017.

Given that privatisation had taken a hit under the Left regime, most people were dependent on that one family member (who had a government job). When the Modi wave finally reached Tripura, the people were desperately looking for a change.

There were increasing demands to revise the Dearness Allowance at par with the Central governmental employees, not to forget the revision of salaries in line with the 7th Pay Commission.

When the BJP promised the same, the Left government was booted out of power. Soon after, the State government announced a hike in the pay scale for employees and pensioners at par with the 7th central pay commission.

The revision drastically changed the structure [pdf] of monthly payouts handed over to the Tripura government employees. Employees were overwhelmed (net salaries increased by over 50%) after years of remaining underpaid under the Left regime.

This was followed by 3 years of gloom when no revisions in the salaries/ pensions were made to keep the fiscal budget in check. The BJP began its course correction, first with a 3% (February 2021) hike, then a 5% (August 2022), followed by a whopping 12% (December 2022) increase in DA.

The unease among government employees, caused due to inflation, has largely been mitigated with three back-to-back revisions. Although the Central employees are being paid 34% DA, the State government has been able to bridge the gap by 20% now.

This is a game changer at a time when the Left, TMC or Congress has failed to promise a better alternative. With the change of Chief Ministership, the inauguration of new projects and a timely revision of salaries/pensions, the BJP is now eyeing a victory in the Northeastern State of Tripura.

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Dibakar Dutta
Dibakar Duttahttps://dibakardutta.in/
Centre-Right. Political analyst. Assistant Editor @Opindia. Reach me at [email protected]

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