Coming ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, the Tripura assembly election is a key test for the ruling BJP, which is facing a challenge from the two-year-old Tipra Motha. The latter has made deep inroads into tribal constituencies, buoyed by its victory in the 2021 tribal council (TTAADC) polls.
In the 60-member state assembly, 20 seats are reserved for tribal areas that hold the key to power in the northeastern state.
Live updates: Tripura assembly election 2023
Adding to BJP’s woes, the ruling party’s tribal ally IPFT has faced desertions in the past few months with many leaders and workers joining the Tipra Motha.
The BJP is contesting in 55 seats, its ally IPFT has fielded candidates in five constituencies. The CPI(M) will contest in 47 seats while its alliance partner Congress is fighting in 13 constituencies. The Tipra Motha has candidates in 42 seats.
Chief minister Manik Saha is the BJP nominee from the Town Bardowali constituency, while Union minister Pratima Bhowmik is contesting from Dhanpur on the saffron party’s ticket. CPI(M) state secretary Jitendra Chaudhury who is the face of the Left-Congress combine, is fighting for the Sabroom Assembly seat.
Tipra Motha supremo Debbarma is not in the fray.
During the campaigning, the BJP highlighted the development that has taken place in the northeastern state in the last five years while the Left Front and the Congress alleged “misrule and misgovernance” by the BJP-led government.
The Tipra Motha’s poll plank is ‘Greater Tipraland’, a separate state for Tripura’s indigenous people, who were reduced to minority due to uncontrolled influx from erstwhile East Bengal (Bangladesh). According to the 2011 census, Tripura’s population is 36.74 lakh, of which about one third (11.6 lakh) is tribal.
In 1901, Tripura’s population was 1.73 lakh, with tribals making up nearly 52.89 percent of the whole. But by 1981, the tribal population dipped to 28.44 percent of a total population of 2.05 million, according to government records.
In the 2018 assembly polls, the BJP had created history by ending the 25-year-old Left Front regime in the state. The saffron party bagged 36 seats and its ally IPFT eight.
This time, altogether 28.13 lakh voters including 13.53 lakh women will decide the fate of 259 aspirants of whom 20 are women. Votes will be counted on March 2.
The voting is being held under tight security between 7 am and 4 pm at 3,337 polling stations, out of which 1,100 were identified as sensitive and 28 as critical, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Gitte Kirankumar Dinakarro told PTI.
The international and inter-state boundaries have been sealed to prevent potential trouble mongers from entering the state. Tripura shares a 856-km border with Bangladesh.
(With inputs from agencies)