The Congress pulled a disappearing act in the Tripura Assembly elections, the results of which were announced on Saturday. It was the main Opposition party in the state in 2013 with 10 seats, but this time it has not won any constituency. The Congress’ vote share also dropped from 36.5% in 2013 to 1.8% this year at the last count.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, on the other hand, made massive gains and emerged the winner, in alliance with a regional tribal outfit, the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura. The saffron party’s vote share rose from 1.5% to 43% this year. The party, which had won no seat in the last Assembly elections, bagged 41 – the BJP itself won 33 and its ally IPFT got eight till 7.20 pm.
The Congress’ campaign, in fact, started on a slow note. The BJP had already established itself as the primary challenger to the Left Front government in Tripura before the Congress entered campaign mode only two months later.
The Rahul Gandhi-led party has been on a downward trend in Tripura since 2016, when six of its legislators defected to the Trinamool Congress and later joined the BJP. In effect, as the Congress’s strength in Tripura waned, the BJP’s increased sharply.
The party, however, got a boost in November 2017 when it won the bye-election to the North Dhanicherra village committee of the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council. It took 197 votes against the CPI(M)’s 181. The BJP managed only 24 votes.
Days before the Assembly elections, former Assam Chief Minister and Congress leader Tarun Gogoi had said that the party’s chances of winning were bleak. However, he believed the party should, nonetheless, put up a fight. “The Bharatiya Janata Party has gained ground in Tripura because they are ruling at the Centre,” Gogoi had said. “This always makes it easy in such a small state. Besides they are pumping in money in the elections.”