In a widely anticipated outcome, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has emerged victorious in the by-elections for the Dhanpur (No-23) and the minority-majority Boxanagar (No-20) assembly constituencies. The counting of votes concluded early today, amidst a boycott by the opposition Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI (M). The BJP clinched both seats with remarkable margins, with an unprecedented 18,744-vote lead in Dhanpur and a record-breaking 30,326-vote advantage in Boxanagar, marking the highest-ever margin of victory in Tripura’s electoral history.
In the previous assembly election, Pratima Bhowmik of the BJP had secured victory in the Dhanpur seat by a margin of over three thousand votes, while the late Shamsul Haq of the CPI (M) had won the Boxanagar seat with a lead of three thousand five hundred votes. This time, Bindu Debnath, the local ‘Mandal’ president and a follower of Pratima Bhowmik, represented the BJP in the Dhanpur constituency. In Boxanagar, Tofazel Ahmed, who had previously lost the assembly election in February, was renominated, and he managed to secure a historic victory by the largest margin ever recorded in Tripura’s assembly polls.
The counting process, which commenced around 8:00 AM, progressed swiftly due to the opposition CPI (M)’s decision to boycott the process. The CPI (M) cited alleged “organized rigging” during the polling on September 5 and the election commission’s failure to order a repoll as the reasons for their protest. Following the announcement of the election results, jubilant BJP workers and supporters celebrated their victory with fireworks, songs, dances, and the distribution of sweets in both constituencies. In contrast, CPI (M) workers and supporters remained conspicuously absent from the scene.
The state BJP leadership extended their gratitude to the people of Dhanpur and, notably, Boxanagar for granting them an overwhelming mandate. Rajeev Bhattacharjee, the state BJP president, emphasized the significance of the BJP’s success in Boxanagar, a constituency with a Muslim-majority population. He pointed out that this victory indicates growing acceptance of the BJP among Muslim voters, who also constitute a significant presence in at least three more constituencies in the state. Bhattacharjee highlighted the party’s commitment to working for all sections of society and overcoming reservations that some Muslims may have had about the BJP, seeing it as a positive message for the entire nation.
On the other hand, Jiten Chowdhury, the CPI (M) state secretary, dismissed the elections and their outcomes as a “farce” orchestrated by the BJP. He alleged that the by-polls had devolved into a massive farce due to the involvement of BJP activists and the cooperation of the police and administration, which led to the party’s decision to boycott the counting process. According to Jiten, the outcome validated their fears of comprehensive rigging and intimidation tactics by the ruling BJP, leading to the party’s loss in Boxanagar after five consecutive victories.