New Delhi: The loss for the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, in Tripura after 25 years in power has left the party holding the reins of governance in only one state—Kerala.
On Saturday, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) along with the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) managed to secure 43 seats in the 60-member assembly and reduced the CPM to merely 16 seats. CPM, the largest party of the Left Front, enjoyed a brute majority in the state for five consecutive terms. This time around, the CPM secured a vote share of 42.7% while the BJP got a vote share of 43%. IPFT, which contested nine seats, had a vote share of 7.5%.
“It is a very unexpected loss for the party. While we have managed to get a vote share of over 40%, it has failed to convert into seats," said a senior CPM leader from Tripura, who did not wish to be named.
The party is holding a meeting on Monday in Agartala to discuss the election results and remedial measures. In 2013, the Left Front came to power after winning 50 of the 60 assembly seats.
“The rise of the BJP is a cause of concern. This election was different. Tripura has never seen the kind of money power being used in elections like it was this time. That was also coupled with the BJP’s alliance with the IPFT, which affected our performance in the tribal areas. The BJP has also managed to wipe out the Congress from the state," the CPM leader added.
On Sunday, four-time chief minister Manik Sarkar submitted his resignation to governor Tathagata Roy.
Speaking to reporters, Sarkar said that he and his ministers would not have been able to run the government for so many years unless the people and the employees extended their cooperation to them.
The loss in Tripura has also once again revived the debate within the party on whether to enter into anti-BJP alliances with other secular parties.
A draft political resolution, which is going to be taken up by the party Congress in April, has ruled out any understanding or alliance with the Congress party.
According to the Press Trust of India, veteran party leader and former Kerala chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan has urged the party leadership to join hands with secular forces to take on the BJP. He said that as the Left parties—which ruled West Bengal and Tripura—were also “weak", a tactical move with secular forces was necessary.
CPM, which is the largest party of the Left Front, has been reduced to a mere nine seats in the Lok Sabha, a sharp decline from 43 members in 2005 and 15 in 2009. The party has also been reduced to just six members in the Rajya Sabha.
While the CPM managed to win the Kerala assembly elections in 2016, there has been a drastic decline in the electoral fortunes of a party that, along with Tripura and Kerala, enjoyed a strong base in West Bengal, where it ruled for over 30 years.
“Tripura voters have given their mandate for a BJP-IPTF government in the state. We thank the people of Tripura for giving us the opportunity to serve them for the past 25 years. We will continue to oppose the BJP and its divisive agenda not only in Tripura but all over India," Sitaram Yechury, CPM general secretary said after the results were declared.