New Delhi: It is the election season, and despite winter being chilly in the Northeast, the real drama of electoral games, ministerial sponsorship related to the insurgency saga and the row over the distribution of tickets have started warming up the political atmosphere.
In Tripura, such is the intensity of the fight and dominance of the BJP that two traditional rivals, the Congress and the Left, have come together and floated a new front.
The Meghalaya BJP will recommend party tickets for at least 56 candidates out of 60 at the earliest.
But importantly, BJP’s organisational general secretary, BL Santhosh, will visit Tura in Meghalaya on January 24 and 25. Tura is the hub of the Garo Tribe in Meghalaya, and the saffron party is optimistic of making
NPP leader and incumbent Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and his parliamentarian sister Agatha Sangma are also from Garo hills, and so is former Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, who is now the face of Trinamool Congress in the State.
Meetings of the party’s core committee and Election management committees scheduled for January 23 in Shillong were cancelled.
On January 25, Santhosh will hold discussions with Mandal presidents and State office bearers. There is also a scheduled meeting with the party’s election management committee.
Sources said once the ‘recommendations’ from the State units on tickets reach BJP’s high command, the parliamentary board, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will meet and take the final decision on the tickets.
Tripura goes to the polls on February 16, while Meghalaya and Nagaland have the voting on February 27.
There are applicants for BJP tickets in Meghalaya from as many as 56 candidates in the 60-member assembly. There are demands for saffron party tickets from multiple candidates in many seats, including a few “possible winning” seats in Shillong. For North Shillong, a cosmopolitan assembly segment, two key party leaders are seeking the BJP ticket. In this segment, 40 per cent of voters are non-tribals, including Bengali and Bihari Hindus.
A former cop M Kharkrang is in the race for the BJP ticket, while L Michael Kharsyntiew is another aspirant. The Trinamool Congress has also fielded a woman candidate Elgiva Rynjah for North Shillong.
In yet another poll-bound state – Tripura- the compulsions of electoral battles have brought together two traditional rivals, the Congress and the Left parties. The CPI-M led Left Front and the Congress despite their
strategic ties in central politics happened to be the two bitter rivals in Tripura’s sharply polarised bipolar political set-up.
In 2018, the BJP could oust the CPI-M.
The rally was the first public display of the newly formed alliance— Democratic Secular Front, where two former Chief Ministers- Samir Ranjan Barman (Congress) and Left Front’s Manik Sarkar, participated.
Lone Congress MLA Sudip Roy Barman, his father and former Chief Minister Samir Ranjan Barman, and AICC secretary Szarita Laitphlang were seen walking down the roads at Agartala side by side with Left leaders, including Manik Sarkar and Jitendra Chowdhury, burying their long-held hatchet for the first time in a public rally.
BJP leader and the state Chief Minister Manik Saha has reacted to Left-Congress coming together, stating, “The relationship between Congress and the Left Front is nothing new”.
In West Bengal in 2021, after the Left and the Congress party had ideologically backed Mamata Banerjee, the Left and Congress were decimated in the state.
What can be slightly worrying for Trinamool Congress is that in Tripura, the percentage of Muslim voters is not much, and thus Mamata Banerjee’s magic has an inherent disadvantage even among the Hindu Bengali population. This was proved in the fiercely contested Tripura civic polls just a few months back.
“Mamata Banerjee’s ‘Muslim card’ does not have many takers in Tripura. The Bengali population in Tripura unlike West Bengal are overwhelmingly Hindu migrants from Bangladesh and hence they are likely to be persuaded by BJP’s Hindutva agenda,” says shopkeeper Samar Kar in Agartala.
Sources also point out that in Nov 2021 civic polls, the Muslim population in two key sensitive assembly hubs, Sonamura and Kailashahar – where they are determining factors in many wards – had voted for the saffron party.