NEW DELHI: In a setback to left politics in India on Saturday, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) lost the prestigious state of Tripura to a Bharatiya Janata Party-led alliance, the first straight fight between the two rivals.
Tripura borders Bangladesh and has been ruled by the CPI-M for about two decades. The CPI-M had earlier lost power in West Bengal to Trinamool Congress after three decades in power.
Trinamool is a centrist party, an offshoot of the Congress. The CPI-M now remains in power only in southern Kerala. The party laid the burden of Tripura defeat at the door of the Congress. The party in a statement said the BJP managed to consolidate all anti-left votes by “appropriating the erstwhile main opposition party, the Congress”.
“This appropriation is evident if you compare today’s results with the 2013 results. In 2013, the Congress got 36.54 per cent, now it has 1.8pc,” a senior functionary of the CPI-M said.
Speaking to reporters at the party headquarters in Delhi, its general secretary Sitaram Yechury also blamed the “money and muscle power” used by the BJP in all north-eastern states.
“Forty-five per cent voters have voted for the Left Front. We assure them that the CPI-M will work for the betterment of their livelihood, their democratic rights and the unity of tribal and non-tribal sections of the society,” he said.
“A proper and thorough analysis of results will be done once we have the detailed results. Steps that are needed will be taken by the party,” Mr Yechury added.
The jolt in Tripura could also mean changes in the party’s own political-tactical line. The tactical line approved in the party’s central committee meeting held in Kolkata in January this year says that there will be no alliance or understanding with the Congress. The line backed by Mr Yechury, advocating an open-door policy, was defeated in the central committee.
On Saturday, he merely said: “The draft political line released by the central committee will be debated at the party congress. Beyond that I can’t say.”
The BJP also made headway in Meghalaya and Nagaland though it fell short of clinching absolute majority in the other two northeastern states.