Saffron Scoop | BJP Desperate for Win in the Face of a United Opposition in Tough Tripura Test

    Now that the polling for the Tripura assembly elections is over, the BJP is aiming to overcome a unique challenge. The saffron unit is trying to secure a victory over a united opposition.

    The Tripura contest is being termed as one of the toughest for the BJP as it takes on an alliance of the Congress and CPI(M). The party has been unable to win polls whenever it has had to take on a united opposition and is now desperate for a win in Tripura, which was reflected in how it sent star campaigners to the electoral battlefield.

    The contest became even more challenging after the opposition alliance received the tacit support of Tipra Motha chief Pradyot Bikram Manikya Debbarman, the erstwhile Tripuri royal scion behind the revival of tribal politics in the state.

    The BJP, too, is seemingly anxious about this pre-poll alliance by the opposition in the northeastern state. Though most senior BJP leaders publicly exude confidence in returning to power in the 60-member legislative assembly, in private discussions they are worried about the opposition’s newfound bonhomie.

    The BJP feels that a three-cornered contest would have ensured a smooth comeback for it and led to a division of opposition votes. But a united opposition will ensure that the anti-BJP votes remain consolidated and end up hurting its prospects.

    There have been many elections since the 2014 Lok Sabha when the collective vote share of the opposition exceeded the BJP’s vote share and, yet, the party had more seats than the opposition, not united, collectively. Over the past several years, the BJP has been unable to win any state poll where it has had to confront candidates put up by a united opposition.

    Take the examples of West Bengal and Jharkhand, which can serve well as case studies where the saffron unit was unable to perform as expected due to a tactical alliance by opposition parties in these states. It must also be noted that in Uttar Pradesh, the party was able to secure a majority in the legislative assembly because the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party failed to form an alliance. In 2018, for Lok Sabha bypolls to seats like Gorakhpur and Phoolpur, the united opposition of SP-BSP wrested seats from the BJP. But in 2019, the alliance failed. The Narendra Modi factor, however, overshadows every other in Lok Sabha elections.


    In fact, the coming together of opposition ranks is being considered a strategic failure of the BJP leadership in the state and Centre. The party, in the past, has been able to thwart similar attempts at uniting anti-BJP votes in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra assembly polls. This had proven to be immensely beneficial to the party as it was able to emerge as the single largest in these states.

    A fractured opposition vote ensures that the BJP’s battle is won even before the first vote is cast. However, the failure of strategists in stopping opposition alliances could mean that the party may be staring at defeat or have a close shave.

    With the 2024 Lok Sabha elections only a year away, the BJP will need to ensure that it works on creating fissures among different opposition parties if it wants to secure a third term for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. There are states like Punjab and Bihar, where it may look for small regional outfits or work out an understanding with its previous allies in at least one of these states.

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