History of the state bordering Bangladesh says people always lean towards the state-governing party
Riding on the unimaginable victory in the state assembly elections in February 2018, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is most likely to win both the Lok Sabha constituencies in the northeastern state of Tripura which borders Bangladesh, according to poll-observing journalists, academia, and ordinary voters.
They said, both incumbent members of the Lok Sabha—the all powerful lower house of the Indian parliament—belonging to the Communist Party of India (Marxist) are all but certain to be unseated by BJP, the current ruling party in the centre.
Speaking to a number of Tripura residents on Friday, the Dhaka Tribune found that almost no one was optimistic about the success of the Marxist party in the two Tripura seats.
Polling for one of the constituencies, Tripura West, took place on April 11, while polling for Tripura East was held on April 18. However, some 168 polling stations saw re-voting on May 12 due to allegations of rigging.
Most voters and experts put the entire left front—comprising of Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Forward Block, and Revolutionary Socialist Party—in the third place.
They are of the opinion that the fight will be fought between BJP and Congress.
Residents noted that the BJP's success will mark the end of a two-decade rule over the state by the Communist Party of India, led by Manik Sarker.
Sensing inevitable loss, the left front gave up on the elections, in both Lok Sabha constituencies prior to, and during the elections, they said.
Amalesh Cope, a teacher of journalism at the Tripura University, said: “If you look at the history of the state, you will see that people have always voted for the party that is in power in Agartala. I think this time will not be an exception either.
“Unfortunately, the Bengali population of the state is increasingly leaning towards Hindu nationalism that is being promoted across the country by BJP, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he added.
Cope, however, said that in a diverse country like India, this ideology would not work for long.
"People of this country will quickly realize that if such an ideology is allowed to thrive, the national security of the country will be in question," he explained, adding that intellectuals of the state had already begun to realize the negative effects of electing a religion-based party to govern the state.
“Yes, BJP is all but certain to win both the Lok Sabha seats in Tripura, as the voters feel that BJP will do better than the party that has ruled the state for two decades,” said Arup Kumar Nath, another teacher at the Tripura University.
Wishing to remain anonymous, one Tripura University academic said: “Support for BJP has started to subside mainly because of two reasons—rural economy and corruption. People see the corruption, but cannot raise their voices against it out of fear of reprisal.”
He further said he was certain that in the 2023 polls for the state assembly, the government in Agartala—Tripura's capital—would change.
Journalist Pinaki Das said the current situation in Tripura could be attributed to the party that ruled the state with a significant majority for the past 20 years.
“The Communist Party of India simply failed to feel the pulse of Tripura residents. Now, they are paying the price for it, along with the ordinary voters,” he said.
When asked about why the Bengali population of Tripura was opting for BJP, despite rising concern among the people of neighbouring Bangladesh, Das said: “Lack of education, and failure of understanding the consequences are to blame for that."
Tripura residents Ajit Paul, Ratan Karmakar, and Asim Das believe that, it is the BJP who can govern them well. While Shiabul Hassan, Ratan Karmaker, and Somiran Kar opined that, no religion-based party can take Tripura or India ahead.