The saffron brigade finally heaved a sigh of relief in Tripura which has been struggling to get the support of the tribals to retain power. With the elections round the corner, the CPI(M), following its State Committee meeting attended by senior politburo leaders, set the ball rolling, signaling its intent to align with Congress and the tribal Tipra Motha (TM) in the fight against the BJP. General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, meeting newsmen recently along with senior state party leader Jiten Choudhury, strongly emphasised that the priority for the Opposition going into the 2023 polls must be to ensure the defeat of the BJP. On the other hand, while BJP leaders took their time in assessing the implications of the Left proposal for a joint Front with Congress, a smaller local outfit, the Peoples’ Congress (PC) announced the formation of a new front with Trinamool Congress and tribal party Tipra Motha (TM) as partners. This is virtually a direct challenge to the proposed Left-Congress alliance to challenge the ruling BJP. The PC welcomed other forces opposed to the BJP but avoided mentioning the Congress and the CPI(M) making it clear that they had chosen to go separate ways in the battle against the BJP.
A keen fight for power is on the cards in Tripura. An Opposition divided into two distinct camps, presenting their separate narratives in their respective campaigns, could only help, not hinder, the BJP’s cause. Sitaram Yechury made it clear at his recent meeting that Left and democratic forces must come together to fight the BJP not merely to win the elections. The greater fight was to strengthen the foundations of democracy and protect the basic rights of the people achieved after many years of struggles. During the BJP’s tenure at the centre and in different states, India’s Constitution and time-honoured political norms had been grossly violated. The economic sufferings of the common people all over India had increased phenomenally because of the BJP’s anti-people policies, the CPI(M) general secretary underlined. To avoid possible controversies, Yechury parried specific questions as to whether the CPI(M) which had won 16 out of 60 seats in 2018 assembly polls as it lost in Tripura after many years, would support a tribal candidate as the next Chief Minister, in the event of a BJP defeat.
As for the BJP, it reacted strongly to the proposal for a left-Congress joint Front. Senior leaders said it would be hard for common people to accept what would be an opportunistic alliance between the Left and Congress. There had been too much violence and bitter history between the two parties. The sole reason for their understanding would be their desire to win power anyhow, caring for nothing else. Meanwhile, the BJP stepped up its campaign, with prominent actor Mithun Chakravarty addressing rallies in his characteristic flamboyant style. He attacked the Left for its inability to alleviate the peoples’ sufferings during its long but barren tenure. At the organisational level, BJP sources say that till now, not much progress in their informal talks with TM, but the local leaders including the central leaders are trying and Home Minister Amit Shah has given a strict directive that all steps have to be taken to ensure that the TM does not join the Left proposed alliance. Now the ball is in TM’s court.