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Columns
Major setback for CPM, Advantage BJP
 
K.Gopalakrishnan

(Mar 5, 2018): In the elections to the assemblies of Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya BJP has ended the 25 year old rule of the CPIM in Tripura, and is all set to form the government in Nagaland and is trying to work out majority in Meghalaya where the Congress has emerged the single largest party.

For the BJP, the results are creditable as it was almost absent in the politics of north-eastern states. Trouncing the CPM in Tripura is no small feat. Though the victory margin is not all that impressive in Tripura, the party could from its little less than 2 per cent vote in 2013, manage 45 per cent votes in the state this time.

It is mainly the work at the organisational level and consolidation at the ground level with the masses which has enabled the party to perform so well in Tripura. Also, the strategy has been to win over the leaders of other democratic parties and use them to the hilt. This did work in the Assam elections which it has successfully tried out in the three north-eastern states. Added to that is the resources at the command of the party.

Though Amit Shah was the master tactician, the ground level work was done by Ram Madhav, general secretary of the party and a senior RSS functionary, who led a team of highly committed Parivar workers. What is notable is the work of the team among the adivasies which was reflected in the votes in tribal areas. The team worked relentlessly in the three states for nearly a year and won over a population which a year ago was not friendly towards the BJP for its anti-cow slaughter, Hindutva and other pet projects of the Parivar.

Politically winning over the north-east may not be a formidable gain as the region sends around 25 members to the Lok Sabha but the fact that it could win over a region is indeed significant. Equally important is that when the party is losing in the Hindi belt as the recent elections in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh show, registering a notable electoral victory in north-eastern region has definitely boosted the sagging morale of the rank and file of the BJP.

For the CPIM it is a major setback. It is true that in Tripura it has lost only three per cent of votes from 48 per cent to a little less than 45 per cent, as per initial calculations. But what it shows is that the divided secular forces make the BJP electorally perform better. The image provided by an upright and honest chief minister, Manik Sarkar did not help in getting votes. There were corruption charges but Chief Minister immediately took corrective action but BJP did make this a campaign issue.

The anti-incumbency could have been a factor but it is also true that Tripura is one of the backward states with a sizeable poor population not provided with basics of life like primary education, health facilities and a need based income. The widespread campaign that in a communist ruled state communal forces cannot flourish has been proved wrong.

It can definitely upset the rank and file as the setback has come after the fall of LDF rule in West Bengal.However it is not fair or right to write the obituary of the Left in the region. After all even in this defeat the Left got nearly 45 per cent of the votes.

BJP which got nearly 46 per cent could get 44 seats, whereas with 45 per cent the Left could get only 15 seats. This is part of the system which we follow. But taking into consideration the anti- incumbency factor, normal after long years in power, getting 45 per cent of votes shows that the party is even now a factor to reckon with in the state. The party can definitely revive and put up a good fight in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. By then BJP too will have to face the anti-incumbency as the hopes raised cannot be fulfilled easily, if one goes by the experience of the NDA at the centre in the last four years or so.

The results are also an eye opener. To defeat the communal forces should all secular forces unite or has the Congress to be kept out? Once again the clash of tactical lines propounded by Sitaram Yechuri and Prakash Karat may surface.

It is now increasingly clear that to defeat the Parivar, with its unlimited resources, secular forces have to unite in the 2019 parliamentary polls. Perhaps the Tripura results may persuade the two top leaders of the party to sink their differences and work out a strategy for unifying the secular forces.

For the Congress the results are on expected lines. The party has not expected much in Tripura and Nagaland but had not expected drawing zero seats in the two states. Rahul Gandhi campaigned only for a day or two in these states. But such an ignominous defeat none expected.

More shocking was the migration of Congress votes en masse to the BJP as the polling percentages of votes revealed. True the concentration was on Meghalaya where the party has emerged as largest single party which was more of a consolation prize. The party needs support of nine more MLAs to form a government. It is not an impossible task if senior leaders put in efforts.

Otherwise, as in Goa and Manipur, BJP may step in and manage majority. Congress leadership needs to be alert and make swift moves on such occasions. In politics missing opportunities reflect badly on the leadership, particularly among party workers.


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