mamata modi
PM Modi and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee: Your gain is my loss?IANS

Party chief Mamata Banerjee had sacked them for supporting BJP-led NDA's presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind in the election last month. And now, the six legislators of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) are set to join the BJP, helping the saffron party to make its debut in the Assembly in the north-eastern state. The state, which is being ruled by the Left since 24 years, will go to elections early next year. The TMC, which was dreaming to stage another West Bengal-like phenomenon in Tripura, has now been turned into nought.

What is surprising is that the TMC legislators stood firmly by the party's original ideology of not siding with the Left, come what may. They defied the party leadership's order to vote for Meira Kumar, Kovind's opponent which was also backed by the Left. The party thus suspended them for sticking to the supremo's ideology!

BJP's spreading wings in northeast

But the legislators did not waste time and met BJP president Amit Shah in Delhi on Saturday, August 5. They (five of them as one fell ill) were given company by Himanta Biswa Sarma, the former Congressman of Assam who now has become a valuable guide for the saffron party to make inroads in various parts of the northeast. Sarma tweeted after the meeting that the legislators expressed their willingness to join the party without any condition.

These legislators had left the Congress ahead of the Assembly election in West Bengal last year when the grand old party had allied with the Left to fight Mamata Banerjee in Bengal. Since the Congress has been the main Opposition of the ruling Left in Tripura, it was quite uncomfortable for it to accept such an arrangement. Hence, the break in the ranks and since the TMC is the anti-thesis of the Left, it was the logical beneficiary.

2013 Tripura Assembly election results

Total seats: 60

Left won 50

Congress won 10

But now, with the BJP virtually becoming an alternative to every other party in India, it also gained in Tripura at the expense of the TMC, which has no unifying factor other than anti-CPIMism.

BJP once had problems with regional opponentsl; not any more

The BJP once had a problem in dealing with the regional opponents. Although it could defeat the Congress easily across the country, state-based parties like the TMC, AIADMK, JD(U), RJD, BJD, etc. still held on to their forts. But the year 2017 saw the BJP pushing the frontiers.

It routed the SP and BSP in Uttar Pradesh (it had done the same in the Lok Sabha elections three years ago as well but it was a central election), fast emerged as a threat to BJD in Odisha and TMC in Bengal, eventually saw the fall of the grand alliance of JD(U) and RJD in Bihar and now made the TMC collapse in Tripura. There are also enough possibilities of the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu indirectly surrendering before it by joining the NDA.

It will be interesting to see how the BJP does in Tripura in the election next year. The Left still has an iron grip on the state and the saffron party will have to put in extra efforts to reverse the political script in the state but the fact that it made an entry into the Assembly even without fighting an election means it has overcome the initial hurdle.