Agartala: With a year left for elections to the 60-member assembly in Tripura, a new equation is emerging in the state with the resignations of two BJP MLAs from the Tripura assembly and their subsequent decision to join the opposition Congress.

It seems the grand old party is trying to stage a comeback in the state it ruled at one time, much to the chagrin of not only the BJP, which wants a “Congress Mukt India”, but also to its progeny the Trinamool Congress, which has vowed to come to power in Tripura in the 2023 state assembly elections.

Buoyed by its amazing success over the BJP in the last assembly elections in West Bengal, TMC’s Abhishek Banerjee had last year claimed his party would form the government in Tripura after the 2023 elections.

TMC’s claims of being the only real opposition to the BJP by attracting Congress dissidents from the party in Meghalaya, Tripura and even in Goa seems to be slowly unwinding at least in Tripura as the Congress claws back towards a revival course.

Speculation was rife that rebel BJP MLAs Sudip Roy Barman and his close associate Asish Saha would join the TMC after coming out of the saffron camp.

However, after their resignations they flew to Delhi to meet Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi and re-joined the Congress. Barman and Saha were ex-Congress leaders who had joined the BJP with much fanfare at one time. Consequently, the `Ghar Wapsi’ (return home) was a bit of a surprise for many.

Sources said two other legislators from the BJP also met Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi and expressed their interests in joining the Congress after a few months due to some technical reasons.

The BJP-IPFT alliance which came to power in 2018 by ending 25 years of CPI(M) rule secured 44 seats (BJP, 36 and IPFT eight seats).

The BJP is now three MLAs short from where it first started in 2018 with the resignations of the two MLAs and another legislator of the saffron party, Asish Das, who was disqualified after he joined the Trinamool Congress.

The BJP had secured 43 per cent vote in the last assembly elections, a huge increase over the 1.87 per cent it had garnered in 2013. This vote share went up in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls to a massive 49 per cent.

The Congress, which secured 45.75 per cent votes in 2013, saw its base eroding to just 1.86 per cent in 2018 as the anti-CPI(M) vote swung to BJP.

The fact that several Congress leaders in the state like Roy Barman also joined the BJP only helped this swell of support for the saffron party which hardly had a presence in earlier decades. The CPIM, on the other hand, saw its vote share eroding from 53.80 per cent vote share in 2013 to 45.46 per cent in 2018, reducing it to third position in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Ever since the BJP-IPFT government was formed, relations between Chief Minister Deb and the Roy Barman camp ran into rough weather and the latter, who was the health minister of the state, was dropped from the ministry after the general elections in 2019 on the charge of anti-party activities.

A dozen rebel BJP MLAs even met party President J P Nadda in Delhi with a demand to remove Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb. However, the group was broken up by accommodating two important rebels in the Deb cabinet and the revolt fizzled out.

The principal opposition CPI(M) has adopted a wait and watch’ policy, as its old rival Congress and possible future ally shakes off its lethargy and takes baby steps to revive.

While the BJP claims it is not bothered by the departure of the two leaders.

This was simply a drama and our party is not bothered with the development. There is no threat to the government. Now we are busy in delivering better governance to people to uplift their standard of living , BJP State President Manik Saha told reporters.

Roy Barman however has predicted the fall of BJP in the state, accusing his former party of corruption, failing to deliver on governance and throttling democracy.

We will not leave any stone unturned to defeat BJP in the next assembly elections. BJP had 1.87 percent vote share before 2018 elections and the vote share of Congress was shifted to BJP after we joined the saffron party , he pointed out.

Secretary of the Tripura unit of CPIM Jitendra Chaudhury said Roy Barman’s departure from BJP is not unexpected and claimed people were sensing political change in the state.

However, the CPI(M) leader remained tight lipped on any kind of understanding with the Congress in near future.

TIPRA Motha chief Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarma who has become an important factor in Tripura politics after winning the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC), said Roy Barman was upset with BJP.

In fact I am surprised that it took so long, Debbarma said.

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