By Sagarneel Sinha | March 7, 2018
March 3, 2018 was probably one of the dreadful nightmares that would continue to haunt the Leftists of the country. The Left has never thought even in the dreams that the BJP would snatch away its last remaining citadel, Tripura. CPM led Left Front which was in power for the last 25 years with Manik Sarkar as Chief Minister in the helm for the last 20 years managed to get only 16 seats, a reduction of 34 in comparison to the last elections. The most surprising information for the Left is that it managed to win only 2 seats out of 19 in the tribal belt of the state, termed as the “red land of the state”. During the gap of 2013 election and the present 2018 election, the CPM led Left Front had won all the elections with big majority starting from the panchayat elections to municipal elections to the legislative bye elections and the Lok Sabha elections held during this period. So, naturally question arises that all of a sudden what happened to the Left to lose its stronghold?
There are many reasons which led to the downfall of the 25 year old communist regime. One of the most important reasons is the unemployment issue. The state is one of those in the country where the rate of unemployment is high. Despite this, the Left government failed to look into this important issue. The government failed to provide new jobs besides the public sector. The capital city of the state, Agartala became the third internet gateway of the country three years ago, yet the government failed to create any IT job. Even the public sector which the Left dispensation relied for jobs was not in a good shape. The cancellation of 10,323 teachers from their jobs by the Supreme Court and the Left government’s failure to resolve the issue made the people of the state think of choosing the saffron as the new alternative. There were reports of high corruption in the administration all along the state, mainly in the lower levels like in the panchayat and in the block levels. The government failed to clean all the mess happened due to nexus between government officials and the local CPM leaders. This high corruption gave the Left Front a bad image despite having a clean face Chief Minister like Manik Sarkar, who otherwise was known as the poorest Chief Minister of the country. It is a true fact that the Left was successful in curbing the decades long insurgency problem of the state and this was probably the biggest achievement of the Left government. The state once troubled with insurgency soon became one of the most peaceful states of the country. After the establishment of peace in the state, the people expected development running on a fast track. Though the Left tried to develop the state, the speed was not fast as expected.
The Left even failed to tackle both administratively and politically the rise of IPFT(NC), a separatist tribal party. The tribal party’s success in holding 11 day long roadblock for the demand of separate Tipraland, which nearly stalled the state’s economy, was probably one of the biggest administrative failure of the Left government. The government’s hesitation to use force immediately to restraint the agitation dented the image of the government achieved after curbing the decades long insurgency in the state. In political terms, the Left should have given equal space to its tribal wing Ganamukti Parishad president and MP of the state Jitendra choudhary in campaigning which was mainly dependent only on Manik Sarkar. The elevation of popular tribal face like Choudhary in the party would have played an important role in neutralising IPFT(NC), which the Left didn’t do and the result was disastrous for the Left in the tribal belt which sends 20 MLAs.
The CPM led Left Front’s manifesto and the campaign failed to deliver future course actions if elected. The campaigning talked only of the past instead of the future actions. Its silence on delivering directions for jobs in public sector, non-implementation of seventh pay commission to the employees who are still paid the fourth pay commission by the state government and the failure to attract the youth who want IT companies in the state attributed to the downfall of the party. The Left completely failed in pulling the new voters who were 30% of the electorate this time, when the BJP’s manifesto was designed mainly to attract the new voters by promising to provide smartphones and IT jobs. The decision of CPM to retain its old faces as candidates instead of nominating new faces also attributes to the defeat. On the other hand,CPM’s going soft on Congress cost the party heavily, even the declaration of the Left leaders that Congress is a good party in comparison to the BJP, only helped the anti-Left Congress voters to desert the grand old party. Congress not only failed to win a single seat but also lost the security deposited in 58 seats. The Left expected that Congress would cut into opposition votes but instead of cutting anti-Left votes, Congress itself sank like the Titanic! And thus the BJP – IPFT(NC) coalition managed to breach the “Red Wall of Tripura”, one of the worst nightmares for the Indian Leftists! The only thing that the Left will find solace is the vote percentage which is still around 45%, in comparison to 50.5% votes of the BJP alliance and most interestingly CPM got 42.7% votes in comparison to 43% votes of the BJP, only a minute difference of 0.3% votes.
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