Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2024 general elections has come to a halt in the northeastern state of Tripura. India’s main opposition party Congress announced its list of 17 candidates for the Tripura Assembly elections to be held on Saturday, 16 February .
This would not be the first instance of proposed opposition unity failing in a state election and helping the BJP. Only last year it was seen in Goa elections.
The party announced that it would have a “friendly fight” with its ally Left Front on four seats in the state. Earlier, the All India Trinamool Congress (AITMC), which rules West Bengal and is the second largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha after the Congress, has also announced his decision to contest alone in the state.
Plan to unite the opposition
The opposition has been mulling over a plan to unite for a long time to prevent the BJP from registering a third consecutive victory in next year’s Lok Sabha elections. Till now several rounds of meetings have been held but it has not moved even an inch further than expressing the desire to form a united front of the opposition.
In the initial talks held over 15 months, the opposition has failed to reach a consensus on who would be the face of the opposition to challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Dominance of national parties in Tripura
The 60-member Tripura Assembly election in a way gave the opposition a chance to fight unitedly as Tripura is a BJP-ruled state. All the major parties in the Tripura elections are national parties. In contrast, Meghalaya and Nagaland, which go to polls on February 27, are dominated by regional parties.
The opposition parties agree that they should come together to oust the BJP from power, but during this time their distrust of each other has become a major topic of discussion. The Left Front, which ruled Tripura for 25 years without a break before being defeated by the BJP in 2018, has refused to give 17 seats to the Congress.
TMC- Left Front closed doors for each other
Looking at the politics of West Bengal, Trinamool Congress and Left Front have closed their doors on alliance with each other. However, in recent times BJP has emerged as the main challenger to Trinamool Congress in West Bengal but TMC is It has not recovered from the fact that in 2011, the Left parties, which ruled West Bengal for 23 consecutive years, killed hundreds of its workers.
The Left could not win a single seat in West Bengal in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and the 2021 Assembly elections, yet the Trinamool Congress, led by Mamata Banerjee, hates even the idea of sharing the stage with the Left. 2024 Lok Sabha in West Bengal The Trinamool Congress would be more than happy to take on the BJP at the state and national level rather than giving any chance to the Left Front which is trying to revive itself before the elections.
Winning the maximum of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal is crucial for the Trinamool Congress. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Trinamool Congress became the third largest party in the Lok Sabha after the BJP and Congress due to the 22 seats it won from West Bengal alone. This kept the Trinamool Congress far ahead of the Left Front or any other opposition party except the Congress.
Multi-cornered contest in Tripura
The Congress, which wrested a state from the BJP with last month’s victory in Himachal Pradesh, has been forced to join hands with the Left Front as a junior partner in a bid to wrest another state and hurt it.2018 Tripura elections and Tripura Till the emergence of the BJP, the Left Front and the Congress were the main rivals in the state politics. The Left Front’s refusal to give up the 17 seats demanded by the Congress party has clearly exposed the fragile nature of the country’s divided opposition.
A friendly contest between the Congress and the Left Front on four seats, the presence of the Trinamool Congress and the refusal of regional Tipra Motha to forge an alliance with the BJP or the opposition in the state means that Tripura will be a multi-cornered contest. Claiming influence on 28 tribal seats Tipra Motha was willing to conditionally forge an alliance with the BJP or the Congress-Left Front alliance, provided they accepted the demand for division of Tripura and a separate state for the indigenous tribals. The national parties were reluctant to accept this demand due to its impact on other states of the Northeast. In these places, the extremists are still demanding a separate state for the local tribes.
A multi-cornered contest on all the 60 seats in Tripura will benefit the BJP. The BJP was earlier on the backfoot in the state but its hopes of retaining power have now got a boost as the division of opposition votes could help it retain power in Tripura.
Tripura election is the trailer of general election
The Tripura election may prove to be a trailer for the bigger picture that will emerge in the 2024 general elections. If we look at the experience of Tripura, in states where they are either in power or powerful, regional parties are not shying away from sacrificing their seats to accommodate the claims of other parties.
To name just two states, such struggles can be seen in Uttar Pradesh and Telangana. The Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh regards the Congress as a blown cartridge or a load. Similarly, the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi (formerly known as the Telangana Rashtra Samithi) in Telangana will keep the Congress at bay as it is still in the politics of the state. Its main rival is the party.
Congress will also not like to leave even a single seat for any other party in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. He is currently in power in both these states. Telangana, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh are among the nine states where assembly elections are to be held in 2023. This could mean that the dream of the proposed opposition unity may die before it can take a formal shape. Post-poll alliance of the opposition now seems to be a practical thing in national politics.
Opposition unity failed in Goa too
This would not be the first instance of proposed opposition unity failing in a state election and helping the BJP. Only last year it was seen in Goa elections. The Trinamool Congress made inroads in the state by buying some senior leaders of the Goa Congress and later offered an alliance with the Congress party, which was rejected by the angry Congress. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) also contested the Goa elections and stuck to its strategy of contesting alone.
The Trinamool Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party took away 12 percent of the crucial opposition vote, which helped the BJP win Goa. The difference in votes between the BJP and the Congress was only nine per cent.