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How The Drift Of Tribal Votes Led To BJP's Spectacular Win In Tripura

Disenchantment among tribal and backward class voters, once considered the bulwark of the CPM's vote bank in Tripura, turned the tide in favour of the BJP

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BJP workers celebrated as the party stormed the Left bastion of Tripura


Agartala:  The drift of tribal and backward class voters was among the factors that led to the Left Front's debacle in the Tripura assembly elections. Of the 20 seats reserved for tribals in the 60-member state assembly, the Left won just two as opposed to the 19 seats it had won in the last elections.

The Left had been in power in the state for the last 25 years, yet basic facilities have eluded tribal families, says 72-year-old Ranabir Debbarma from Bamutia  in West Tripura.

"Many tribal families are still poor and cannot send their children to school. Drinking water remains an issue, tribals still drink water from rivulets. Local CPM leaders would give the benefits of government schemes to their near and dear ones," said Mr Debbarma, a staunch Communist who claimed to have voted for the BJP this time.

Bengalis are the majority in Tripura, and the Left traditionally had a strong grip over backward class Bengali voters in reserved seats like  Bamutia. But this time, they switched loyalties in sync with the BJP's call for change.

"I was a CPM supporter who joined the BJP in 2016 because I was tired of CPM's grassroots level corruption right from the panchayat level," said Gourhari Sen.

In these assembly elections, the Left was not the only loser. Congress, which always got over 35 per cent votes,  could not even manage two per cent this time.

Former state Congress chief Sudip Roy Burman, who first moved to the Trinamool Congress with five other lawmakers and then to the BJP, says the Congress was never serious about coming to power in Tripura.

"Voters in Tripura were divided into two groups -- Left and anti-Left. Till a few days ago,  Congress was the main opposition party but when people saw a nexus between the Congress and Communists they lost confidence and were looking for a party that could dislodge the state government. Finally, they found it in the BJP under Narendra Modi's leadership," Mr Burman told NDTV.

Unemployment is a major issue in the state that has nearly seven lakh jobless youth. "There has been infiltration of Bangladeshis who have got all Indian documents and even government jobs. We, the sons of the soil were left behind,"  said Shyamal Debbarma, a tribal.

And tapping into this sentiment is the BJP's ally -- Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT) -- that says it has not yet dumped its call for a separate tribal state.

"As a political party, IPFT will still demand a separate tribal state for the survival of the tribals," said IPFT president NC Debbarma.


Election Results for Lok Sabha Election 2019 will be out on May 23. Get the latest election news and live updates on ndtv.com/elections. Catch all the action on NDTV Live. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for news updates from each of the 543 parliamentary seats for the election 2019

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