Clean governance, development led to Left win in Tripura (News Analysis)
By Sujit Chakraborty, Agartala, Mar 1 : Sound organisation, development and lack of corruption have not just steered the CPI-M led Left Front to its seventh term in Tripura but also given it its highest vote percentage.
India's second longest running Left government - after West Bengal - was Thursday returned to power for a fifth consecutive term and the seventh since 1978, when it was voted in for the first time.
Then, Nripen Chakraborty, father figure of the Communist movement in Tripura, led the Left to victory with 56 seats in the 60-member assembly and a vote percentage of 50.54. In the Feb 14 polls, the result of which was declared Thursday, the Left Front secured 50 seats but upped the voting percentage with a highest ever 53 percent.
The Congress has managed to dent its winning streak only once - ruling between 1988-93 when it formed a government in alliance with the tribal-based Tripura Upajati Juba Samity, now renamed Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT).
"The booming victory of the Left parties in Tripura assembly elections would make a significant impact in the national politics. It would also boost the Left movement in India," said Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, the architect of the win who has won kudos from even the opposition for his spartan lifestyle and transparency.
"After the electoral debacle of Left parties in West Bengal and Kerala in 2011, people who say that Left parties have lost their relevance or significance nationally have a strong fear of us. The people of Tripura gave befitting replies to those critics," Sarkar told IANS.
His political rival, veteran Congress leader Tapas Dey, said Sarkar, who is set for a fourth term as chief minister, could be credited with the win.
"Manik's (Manik Sarkar) spartan lifestyle, sincerity, dedication, extreme honesty and seriousness are the hallmark of the ruling Left Front."
According to political analyst Sekhar Datta, "solid organisation, less corruption in all level of administrations and zero irregularities in higher level besides continued development are the basic advantage of the Left Front".
Citing rural development, he said: "Tripura is on the top among northeastern states in terms of development and transparency of the government."
Two former chief ministers - Nripen Chakraborty and Dasaratha Deb - along with Bidya Debbarma, Biren Datta, Baidyanath Majumder, Dinesh Debbarma are also credited with strengthening the Communist base among the tribals and non-tribals.
"If at all any 'anti-incumbency factor' prevails, this has been superseded by very less corruption, development, establishment of peace by curbing militancy and a solid party organisation of the ruling parties," said Satyabrata Chakraborty, a political commentator.
"More discipline, less corruption and better organised are the good characteristics of Left parties in Tripura," Chakraborty remarked.
At the end of several hundred years of rule by 184 kings, the erstwhile princely state Tripura merged with the Indian Union in October 1949.
With a current population of 3.7 million (with one third are tribals), Tripura was under central rule in between 1949 and 1971.
Official statistics revealed that Tripura's per capita annual income was only Rs.534 when it attained statehood in 41 years ago. The figure rose to over Rs.50,750 in the last economic survey.
"Most Left Front candidates have increased their winning margin in most seats," an Election Commission official said.
The CPI-M, the dominant partner of the Front, alone bagged 49 seats this time, three more than what it got in 2008. The CPI won one seat and lost another. The Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and Forward Bloc lost the two and one seats they contested. The RSP had two seats in the outgoing assembly.
While the Congress managed to retain its 2008 tally of 10 seats, its ally the INPT drew blank. It had won one seat five years ago.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress, which fielded 22 candidates in 2008, did not contest this time to prevent a split in non-Left votes. But even that did not help the Congress in the Feb 14 polls.
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)