By Shaurya Shekhar
The people of Tripura voted yesterday to decide the fate of the Left Front Government in Tripura. The voter-turnout at 9 PM stood at 78%, much below last time’s 91.82%. The Left Front has been ruling Tripura for the past 25 years and its leader Manik Sarkar is now seeking a record fifth term. During the election campaign, the BJP seems to have established itself as the main challenger with its high pitched “Chalo Paltai” campaign. What is yet to be seen is whether they will be able to form the next Government or whether they will be able to restrict Manik to a reduced majority. The campaign in Tripura is a part of Amit Shah’s North-East Master Plan which wants to try and replicate the success of Assam Elections of 2016 in not only Tripura but also in Meghalaya and Nagaland this year.
The Tripura Elections can be seen as a fight between the ones wishing for change and ones wishing for stability. What needs to be understood is the mentality of both of these groups.
Understanding the primary demographic
The ones wishing for change are predominantly the youth, who made up a sizable 17% of the electorate in the last Assembly Election. This time, there are around 48000 first time voters as well. Moreover, 30% of the total population lies between the ages of 15 and 29 years. These people represent the youth, the people who want to educate themselves and realize their aspirations by working or engaging themselves in entrepreneurship. These people wish for change because, ever since they have been born, they have seen just one party. For them, the political scenario in Tripura seems to have stagnated. They believe a jolt to the current system will shake them out of their lethargy and, in turn, lead to a better future for the State.
The youth also represent the aspirations of the upwardly mobile and do not agree with one of the principle tenets of Communism: egalitarianism. They believe that it is time for Tripura to aspire more for themselves. About 7 lakh people are currently unemployed in the state, which has made unemployment one of the main talking points of this election campaign, with the BJP talking about massive job creation and development if voted to power.
Need to think of wide-spread impact
The other section of the electorate has lived through the 1980s and the 1990s, when Tripura was in the midst of conflict and insurgency, due to the demands for a separate state Tripuri tribals. It was only in 2015, after 18 years, that the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act was lifted. As many people put it, after so many years of ‘gondogol’ (trouble), it is unwise to expect super fast development so quickly. The people belonging to this age-group place ‘shaanti’ (peace) over development. They attribute a steady undercurrent of development to the fact that Tripura has been able to edge-out Kerala from the top spot in literacy levels and that the per-capita income has steadily increased from Rs 11,000 to Rs 80,000 in the past twenty years. To these people, the Left represents a certain sense of familiarity and security which they deem to be very important after years of militancy.
It should be noted that change, purely for the sake of change, never yields any good. Considering the promise of 10 million jobs in the BJP manifesto of 2014, maybe it would be wise to re-analyse the promises of the BJP this time in Tripura. In the meantime, it would also suit the Left to begin catering to the aspirations of the energetic and restless younger electorate by trying to be a bit lenient with its anti-globalisation and anti-capitalism stance.
Stay updated with all the insights.
Navigate news, 1 email day.
Subscribe to Qrius