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Tripura Election 2018: Crucial Seats in Determining the Political Scenario
Sagarneel Sinha
Tripura Election 2018: Crucial Seats in Determining the Political Scenario
PHOTO : TIWN File Photo

The battle for Tripura has already started and the fight between the ruling CPM and the main opposition BJP is intensifying more with nearing of the day of election. In a tight fight, even a slight swing of votes may change the game. There are around 28 seats which were won in the last election with slight margins — all but one were won with votes less than 2000. Here, the winning percentage varies mostly from 2% — 5%. Therefore, any swing of votes in these seats may change the political game of the state.

Out of these 28 seats, there are 4 seats which were won by even less than 500 votes — 3 by the Congress and the other went to CPM’s kitty.  Ramnagar seat was won by CPM's Ratan Das defeating Congress candidate Surajit Datta with a very slight margin of 0.18% votes and retaining it this time may not be possible for the red party. This seat was a Congress stronghold and now most of them are loyal to the BJP. Presently, Surajit who was also the Trinamool president of the state joined the saffron camp and BJP may not upset him by not providing the seat. The other three seats were won by Congress and there is less possibility of the grand old party’s retaining these seats. Barjala seat was won by Congress candidate Jitendra Sarkar with 0.73% votes. However, bye-election was held due to his resignation and CPM's Jhumu Sarkar won with a good margin.

But, if the saffron camp succeeds in pulling the Trinamool votes then it won't be easy for CPM to win the seat. Badharghat seat was also won by Congress' Dilip Sarkar with a slight margin of 1.30% votes. Dilip is presently in the saffron camp. The seat was contested by RSP. However, CPM is not going to give the seat to RSP this time and if reports are to be believed then state's lone Rajya Sabha MP is going to contest the seat. So, there are chances of CPM winning this seat. Kailashahar, the traditional seat of Congress where the party's state president Birajit Singha himself is the candidate may see the lotus blooming this time. Last time Birajit won the seat with a slight margin of 1.27% votes.

Any swing of 2-3% votes will change the scenario of the seat which is near the border and chances of polarisation couldn't be ruled out this time, ultimately benefiting the saffron camp.

There are two seats that are won with a margin between 500 to 1000 votes — all by the Congress. The seats are Radhakishorepur and Mohanpur. Both the MLAs are in the saffron camp this time. Radhakishorepur is the traditional seat of RSP which was won by the Congress last time defeating the then cabinet minister Joy Govinda Deb Roy. As the victory margin was of only 2%, chances of Left comeback couldn't be ruled out. The Mohanpur seat was won by Ratan Lal Nath, one of the heavyweight opposition leaders of the state with a slight margin of just 2%. In both these seats, Congress may spoil the saffron chances by dividing the anti-Left votes helping the Left.

However, the most crucial seats are the 22 seats where the victory margin is between 2-5% votes. Most of this seats are won by the ruling CPM — 20. Any swing of around 2-6% votes may change the complete political scenario of the state as CPM would be the most affected one. Anti-incumbency would be one of the most decisive factors in these seats, given the slight victory margins. The seats are Khayerpur, Mandaibazar,Takarjala, Bishalgarh, Suryamaninagar, Charilam, Sonamura, Teliamura, Matarbari, Kamalpur, Surma, Ambassa, Chawmanu, Pabiachhara, Fatikroy,Kadamtala-Kurti, Panisagar, Pencharthal and Kanchanpur — all won by the CPM with less than 2000 votes which may see lotus blooming in these seats if BJP succeeds in pulling CPM votes.

The other two seats — Dharmanagar and Karamchhara were won by Congress with less than 2000 votes and the two MLAs are presently in the saffron camp where Left seems to be ahead as Congress may cut the anti- CPM votes. The other seat Pratapgarh which was won by late CPM stalwart and former cabinet minister Anil Sarkar may see the lotus blooming given the small victory margin of just around 5%. In the bye-election CPM won with a big margin, yet the seat showed the rise of BJP getting around 23% votes. Last time BJP didn't even contest the assembly election due to organizational weakness and winning the Pratapgarh seat wouldn't be a cakewalk for CPM.

There has been an increase of BJP votes at the cost of Congress even taking the main opposition seat from the Congress and the joining of many Left voters to the saffron camp has been a big worry for the ruling CPM because there are 21 seats won by the party last time with a less margin — all mostly less than 2000 votes. Whether Congress would be successful in contesting all the 60 seats is a big question and with the majority of Congress and Trinamool (mostly all) joining the saffron camp reducing the chance of division of anti-Left votes mainly in the plain areas is concerning the CPM.

This battle would not be easy for CPM as retaining the 21 seats won't be easy though the party may be successful in winning 4-5 seats won by the Congress last time. BJP also knows that the party has to create a wave in the state to pull more and more CPM votes because there are around 18 seats where CPM won with more than 10% votes. It means that both the parties are neck and neck fight. New voters are going to be one of the main decisive factors and BJP has a edge mostly between the age of 18 and 25 voters.

Also, BJP's strategy in making alliance with the tribal parties would decide the fate of 20 ST seats. The once main opposition of the state Congress would decide the fate in some seats of the plain areas where the fight between CPM and BJP would be close. Congress itself is facing an existential crisis with slight chances of winning 1-2 seats mostly the Banamalipur seat. All these factors have made the election more interesting and seems that the winner party — CPM or BJP would have a simple majority instead of two-third or three-fourth majority in the new state assembly.

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