Tipra Motha: Regional party to reckon with
The regional party’s candidate Subodh Deb Barma was able to defeat deputy chief minister Jishnu Dev Varma in Charilam constituency by over 850 votes
New regional party Tipra Motha which fought the Tripura Assembly elections without an ally and clinched 13 seats made significant inroads into the vote share of the BJP-IPFT and the Left-Congress alliance.
The political party, floated in 2021 seeking Greater Tipraland and banking on the tribal people who dominate 20 of the 60 assembly seats, won the 13 seats of the 42 contested, polling around 19 per cent vote share.
The regional party’s candidate Subodh Deb Barma was able to defeat deputy chief minister Jishnu Dev Varma in Charilam constituency by over 850 votes.
The BJP-IPFT alliance retained the state winning 33 seats in the 60-member assembly on Thursday, 10 less than the figure in 2018, but nevertheless a clear majority which will allow it to rule for five years without seeking help from the Tipra Motha.
The saffron party contested in 55 seats and won 32, three less than what it bagged in 2018. The party secured 38.97 per cent of the votes polled. The IPFT, which was affected by a factional fight, managed to emerge victorious in only one seat, while it had got eight seats five years back. Its vote share this time was a meagre 1.26 per cent.
The new party formed two years back by a scion of the state's former princely family ate into the tribal votes of both the Left-Congress alliance, which secured 14 seats, as well.
The Tipra Motha’s entry into electoral politics in the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) elections in 2021 was marked by a landslide victory, securing 18 of the 28 seats.
"I don't foresee a bright future for the regional party as it will be challenge for the Tipra Motha's leadership to keep all the party MLAs within the party fold in next five years", veteran journalist Sanjib Deb said.
Replacing Biplab Kumar Deb with Manik Saha as Chief Minister last year did "wonders for the BJP to downplay anti-incumbency", he said.
In the 2018 assembly elections, the BJP riding on the popularity of the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) won 10 ST seats for the first time in the history of state politics and its ally IPFT won eight seats ensuring the defeat of Communist regime.
Rebati Tripura, MP and state BJP vice president, said, "Although the BJP secured a simple majority in the 60- member Assembly , the party needs to work hard in the hills to strengthen the organisation. Winning in 32 seats seems a warning call for the BJP. We need to work as a team to penetrate the tribal belt in the next five years".
Tipra Motha leader Animesh Debbarma, who won the election from Asharambar Assembly seat, claimed the party fought the election without any ally and created a history as no regional party has won so many seats in the 60-member Assembly before.
In the late eighties, Tripura Upajati Yuba Samity (TUJS) contested the election with Congress and won eight seats while the IPFT also won the same number of seats in the 2018 Assembly elections, he claimed.
"Our target was to position us as a determining factor in government formation but the BJP secured a simple majority. We did well in the elections and it will be an inspiration for regional parties in the northeast how a regional party could fight election and secure good number of seats'', Debbarma, who is also the Deputy Chief Executive Member (CEM) of Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC), told PTI.