After ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’, BJP Chief Amit Shah focuses on ‘Left-mukt Bharat’

Amit Shah
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New Delhi, April 05: Near to achieving its target of a “Congress-mukt Bharat (Congress-free India)”, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has turned its concentration on the Left strongholds of Kerala and Tripura.

While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ideological nurture, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), have turned up the heat on Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) -led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala, the party supremo Amit Shah is now focusing to Tripura, which is due for state assembly election in 2018.

The small northeastern state is remarkable for the Bharatiya Janata Party as the CPI (M) led Left has been ruling the state since 1993 and the Indian National Congress seems to be losing ground.

The Northeast has emerged as a happy hunting ground for the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is in power in three states and a junior partner in the ruling coalition.

Amit Shah will on May 7 begin a two-day visit to the state during which he plans to meet party cadres and prepare the ground for the Bharatiya Janata Party’s expansion.

There are many reasons to the Bharatiya Janata Party that they are anxious about Tripura.

The “Red Fort” in West Bengal has already fallen to Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party has been quick to make inroads in the state. In the state of Kerala, BJP managed to win its first assembly seat in the last year held assembly election.

The Indian National Congress, which has been in opposition for 24 years in Tripura, is losing ground while the Bharatiya Janata Party is getting a good response from people.

The Tripura assembly has 60 seats, 49 of which are with the Communist Party of India- Marxist (CPIM)  and 10 with the Indian National Congress. In the 2013 state assembly election, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) contested 50 seats, lost deposit in 49 and polled just 1.54 percent votes compared to CPM’s 48.11 percent and Congress’ 36.53 percent. The next year’s Lok Sabha election offered some hope to the Bharatiya Janata Party that saw its vote share rise to 5.77 percent and Congress’ slip to 15.38 percent.

Of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in the Northeast, Assam accounts for 14 while Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, and Arunachal Pradesh have two each. Mizoram, Nagaland, and Sikkim have one.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the Bharatiya Janata Party won 8 seats and its allies, the Nagaland Peoples Front (NPF) and the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF), one each.

Despite the so-called Narendra Modi wave, the Northeast gave the Indian National Congress 8 of its 44 Lok Sabha seats. The Communist Party of India-Marxist won two and rest went to regional players.

The Bharatiya Janata Party is eyeing 20 of the 25 seats in 2019. It has formed a grouping, the North-East Democratic Alliance, with regional players. Bharatiya Janata Party general secretary Ram Madhav and Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who was instrumental in the Bharatiya Janata Party forming its first government in the state, are its points persons in the region.

A setback in Tripura would further marginalize the Left nationally. If the Bharatiya Janata Party manages to get the better of the Communist Party of India-Marxist in the Tripura election, it will deal a blow to the communist party’s effort to cobble up an alliance of non-Bharatiya Janata Party parties to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2019 general election.

Chief minister Manik Sarkar has a clean image but his government is facing corruption charges, including over recruitment of teachers. The Bharatiya Janata Party has been asking Manik Sarkar to step down, holding him responsible for the Supreme Court sacking 10,223 teachers. The party is organizing protest demonstrations and drawing a good response.