By Sujit Chakraborty,
Agartala : The Left may have swept the election to the 30-seat Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) but its vote share dropped a record 10 percent.
The election was held on Sunday and the results were declared on Wednesday. The main opposition Congress fell to the fifth position in the vote share, one step behind the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The Left Front, led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), secured 54 percent votes, 10 percent less than what it managed five years ago.
The Left bagged all the 28 TTAADC seats for which elections were held. The CPI-M won 25 and three smallier parties one seat each. The government nominates two members from among tribals.
It was third consecutive victory for the Left in the tribal body.
The tribal-based Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) and Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT) grabbed significant 18.06 percent and 10.77 percent of votes respectively. Both won negligible percentage of votes in 2010.
The INPT, headed by former militant leader Bijay Kumar Hrangkhawal, came third. It had snapped its decades-old electoral ties with the Congress in July 2014.
The BJP got 7.87 percent of the votes, the highest share for it in the tribal council elections so far.
Registering its worst performance, the Congress secured only 5.49 percent of votes, less than a third of what it got in 2010.
“The demand for a separate state easily influenced the tribals to vote in large numbers for the IPFT. This is a new trend in Tripura politics,” political analyst Tapas Dey told IANS.
He said: “Both the ruling and opposition parties, mainly the national parties, must see that electoral politics doesn’t divide the tribals and non-tribals.”
Political analyst Sanjib Deb said: “The CPI-M, despite substantial base among the tribals, is alienated from the younger generations of the community.”
Tribals, who make up a third of Tripura’s 3.7 million population, play a key role in deciding which party will govern the state that shares a 856-km border with Bangladesh.
“The IPFT’s emotional demand for a separate state for tribals can misguide them,” CPI-M state secretary and central committee member Bijan Dhar told IANS.
“The demand for a separate state is a divisive demand. As the IPFT is a political mask of the outlawed terrorists, such a demand might destabilise harmony among tribal and non-tribals,” he said.
Dhar said the BJP’s campaign on Hindutva lines helped it to increase its vote share.
He said: “Tripura’s tribals are much better off than tribals elsewhere in the country. This is also the opinion of many scholars.”
Tripura’s two banned militant groups — the National Liberation Front of Tripura and the All Tripura Tiger Force – seek the state’s secession from India. Both have bases in neighbouring Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Since its formation in 1982, the Left has controlled the TTAADC except in two terms — 1990-95 and 2000-05. In the 60-member Tripura assembly, 20 seats are reserved for tribals.
Over 12 lakh people, mostly tribals, reside in the areas administered by the TTAADC, which has jurisdiction over two-thirds of Tripura’s 10,491 sq km territory.
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at [email protected])