Modi to visit Tripura on Oct 27 to ‘rejuvenate’ BJP ahead of polls

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Tripura on October 27, and this sudden one-day tour — according to the political pundits — is to rejuvenate the BJP, and also to tame the anti-incumbency factors ahead of the assembly election which is around four months away from now.

Political analysts said that in the backdrop of the anti-incumbency factors of the BJP government, the saffron party is keen to kick-start the electoral preparation with Modi’s visit as the party would take a desperate attempt to retain power in Tripura, once a Left parties’ strong bastion.

As the BJP returned to the power for the second consecutive terms in Assam (2021) and Manipur (2022) — the party is keen to maintain the same tempo in Tripura.

In Tripura, the BJP is in alliance with the tribal-based party Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) came to power in the 2018 assembly polls thrashing the CPI-M led Left parties, which governed the northeastern state for 35 year in two phases (1978-1988 and 1993-2018).

To a query, an Election Commission official said that early election to the 60-member Tripura assembly is not possible as the summary revisions of the electoral rolls are going on and the final electoral rolls would be published on January 5, 2023 with January 1 as the qualifying date of birth for inclusion of new voters.

The elections are unlikely to be held before the third week of February next year, the official told IANS, refusing to be named.

Political analyst and writer Sekhar Datta said that the BJP government has been facing so many anti-incumbency factors and they are not in a comfortable position to face the electoral challenge.

“The central leaders of BJP do not want to take any chance to manage all the loopholes, shortcomings and failures of the government. That’s why they are keen to start the electoral preparations in a big way and well in advance,” Datta told IANS.

To give a positive message to the people, the central leaders had all of a sudden removed Biplab Kumar Deb from the chief ministerial position on May 14, and appointed then state President and Rajya Sabha member Manik Saha as his successor.

The central and state leaders of the party are yet to disclose the reasons behind the removal of Deb from the top post.

In an apparent attempt to tame anti-incumbency and stem any discontent within its organisation in Tripura, the BJP adopted its now successfully tested strategy of going in with a new face in the Assembly polls.

With the strategy of changing the chief minister ahead of polls going in its favour in Uttarakhand, the BJP’s top leaders opted for a similar change in Tripura where the BJP had less than two per cent vote share before the 2018 assembly polls.

The BJP has changed five chief ministers since 2019, including in Gujarat and Karnataka.

Another political commentator Sanjib Deb said that with the visit of the Prime Minister, the ruling BJP would prepare its organisational grounds with the crucial assembly polls in the early next year in mind.

“In less than two months of BJP President J.P. Nadda’s visit to Tripura, PM Modi’s visit is very significant as the party has already started its electoral preparations with all out efforts,” Deb, editor of a leading Tripura daily, told IANS.

However, CPI-M led Left parties and the Congress are also preparing themselves to fight the upcoming elections, he pointed out.

Nadda during his two-day visit to Tripura in August held a series of meetings and addressed public rallies to gear up the party organisations ahead of the Assembly elections.

The BJP president as part of strengthening the organisations, recently appointed former Central minister Mahesh Sharma as central observer of Tripura replacing Vinod Sonkar while former Uttar Pradesh Minister Mahendra Singh and Rajya Sabha member Samir Oraon also appointed as election observers of the party in poll-bound state.

Amid the preparations for the elections, a fresh controversy erupted after the BJP brought around 300 bikes and 100 Scorpio cars to Tripura from Uttar Pradesh forcing the opposition parties including the CPI-M, Trinamool Congress and the Congress to demand a probe, alleging that the vehicles would be utilised for various “nefarious activities”.

Refuting the opposition parties’ allegations, the BJP said that around 100 bikes were brought for a state-wide campaign by the party leaders and workers.

“These bikes will be used in the Vistarak Yojana Campaign of the party aimed at establishing direct contact with the people in the state. The party members would take the BJP’s programme, mission and ideology to the doorsteps of the people,” Tripura BJP’s spokesman Nabendu Bhattacharjee told IANS.

He said that the campaign would be conducted with a duration of one month to six months considering the size of the population and topography of an area.

(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at sujit.c@ians.in)

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