March 22, 2014

TRIPURA & LOK SABHA 2014


WILL THE LEFT HOLD ON TO ITS LAST BASTION



After being thrown out of Bengal by Didi and losing a close contest to the Congress in Kerala, Tripura CM Manik Sarkar saved the blushes for the Communists by retaining their citadel in the North-east (Link). The Left leader who has been in power since 1998 has an extremely clean image. In fact, while filing his papers from his constituency his total assets amounted to less than two and a half lakh rupees. As the Reds talked about the achievements of their incumbent CM on their campaigns, the principal Opposition - the Congress spoke about the regime's failure to alleviate poverty and tackle unemployment. In spite of the grand old party joining hands with two other regional outfits, the Left Front took 50 seats; the surprising part was that after being in power for so long, they had increased their tally by one seat. After such a resounding victory, hardly an year ago, you can expect the Reds to win both parliamentary seats from here. Luckily for the them, they seem to be in top position at least in Tripura unlike in Bengal and Kerala where they are predicted to lose heavily.

ISSUES

(1) The Sarkar Raj: Having won a straight fourth term, the Tripura CM Manik Sarkar is the new 'blue-eyed' in the Red camp. Hailed as the 'cleanest and the poorest' CM in the country by some newspapers, his image as a non-corrupt, performing leader will be a big poll issue for the Communists. It is believed that he deposits his monthly salary in the party fund and draws a subsistence allowance of five thousand rupees. Under him, the state has won as many as 16 awards from the Union government for the successful implementation of central schemes.

(2) The idea of a Third Front: The Left Front will sell its eternal dream of a non-BJP, non-Congress alliance to head the government at Centre during its campaign in the state. Of course, considering the difference of opinion amongst the federal leaders over key issues (Link), will this remain a 'dream' or ever materialize is a cause of concern. Meanwhile, highlighting the in-competencies of the INC led UPA government and hitting out at the NDA's PM nominee Narendra Modi's alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots, you can expect the Communists to ask the masses to vote for the Third Front.

CONTENDERS

(1) The Left Front: The CPI(M) and the CPI have been in power in the state continuously since 1993. As such, the Left has been the dominant power in the state for about 20 years and is expected to sweep the two seats from here this time around too. The two sitting MPs from here - Khagen Das (West Tripura) and Bajuban Reang (East Tripura) have decided to opt out of the race due to health reasons. The party has nominated two fresh faces - trade union leader Shankar Prasad Datta from the western constiutency and state Rural development and Industries Minister Jitenda Choudhury from the east.

(2) Others: The biggest problem for the Congress which is the principal Opposition here is that it is engulfed in deep rooted factionalism. In what was a major embarrassment, a party rally in Agartala was attended by less than a thousand supporters, exposing the cracks in the grand old party. Professor Arunoday Saha had filed his nominations from West Tripura. The biggest headache for the Left however, will be that Mamata Bannerjee has decided to bring her idea of 'Poribortan' to the tiny state. After decimating the Left parties in Bengal, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) is all set to make her debut here and will be aiming to replicate her success in her home state. Didi has nominated former Congress minister Ratan Chakraborty and tribal leader Bhriguram Reang from the state. The other contenders include the BJP, the Aam Admi Party (AAP) and several other regional players like the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra (INPT), Nationalist Conference of Tripura (NCT), the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT) and the Tripura Gramin Vikash Congress (TGVC).

PAST PERFORMANCE

The comrades have painted the state red in the last five Lok Sabha polls.

Political Party
2009
2004
1999
1998
1996
Left Front (CPI-M/CPI)
2
2
2
2
2
Others
-
-
-
-
-

MY PREDICTIONS

Like so many times in the past, the Left parties are all set to win the two seats in the state. While it may not win any seats, I expect the TMC to get more votes than the Congress. It will be interesting to see if Bannerjee's party can make an impact here. If it does manage to get sizable votes, you can expect it to get few seats in the next legislative assembly elections in 2018.


Political Party
Expected Seats
1
Left Front (CPI-M/CPI)
2
2
Others
0

WATCH OUT

(1) The political fortunes of the Left: If the Communist have to keep both the Congress and the BJP away from power in 2014, it has to perform well in the upcoming General Elections. Of course, it will not be able to even come near its tally of 60+ seats in 2004. However, the Reds have to end with a tally of at least 30 seats if they have to remain political relevant while forming the next regime in New Delhi. Considering the precarious situation that the CPI-M finds itself in Bengal and Kerala, that seems to be a herculean task. As such, the comrades cannot take Tripura lightly and have to make sure they bag both the seats.

(2) The Rise of the Trinamool: After finishing Left domination in Bengal, Mamata Bannerjee has set her eyes on Tripura. Considering the fact that 69 percent of the state's population is Bengali, the TMC chief wants to emulate her spectacular success story in this part of the country too. If her outfit can end up with a higher vote share than the INC, you can expect several Congressmen to join her. In the coming year, the TMC can become the real challenger to the Left.


For more posts in this series:
(1) Telangana & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(2) Karnataka & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(3) Rajasthan & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(4) Maharashtra & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(5) Goa & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(6) Kerala & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(7) Assam & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(8) Haryana & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(9) Chhattisgarh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(10) Jammu Kashmir & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(11) Madhya Pradesh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(12) Bihar & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(13) Jharkhand & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(14) Sikkim & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link
(15) Arunachal Pradesh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(16) Nagaland & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(17) Manipur & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(18) Meghalaya & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(19) Mizoram & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(20) Delhi & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(21) Uttarakhand & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(22) Himachal Pradesh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(23) Gujarat & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(24) Punjab & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(25) Bengal & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(26) Odisha & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(27) Tamil Nadu & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(28) Andhra & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(29) Uttar Pradesh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)