Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath can play a key role for the Bharatiya Janata Party in poll-bound Tripura as he is the head of the Nath sect, which has a huge number of followers in Tripura.
In Tripura, which goes to the Assembly polls on 18 February, out of the total 35 lakh population, 10-12 lakh people are associated with the Nath sect and the BJP is trying to woo voters from this segment for the polls.
There are two prominent Nath temples in Tripura—one located in Agartala and another in Dharamnagar. The BJP will kick off its election campaign in the state after Adityanath’s visit to both these temples.
A source told The Sunday Guardian: “The BJP’s poll campaign in Tripura will begin from any of these two temples. For that, party leaders are working with the heads of these two temples and an extensive plan for the election campaign is being made.”
“BJP leaders are also exploring the possibility of playing the Other Backward Class (OBC) card in the Tripura Assembly elections, as across the country, followers of the Nath sect come under the OBC category, but in Tripura, the CPI (M)-led government has kept this sect out of the OBC category,” the same source cited above added.
In Tripura, followers of the Nath sect have been demanding OBC quota for a long time, and view the emergence of Yogi Adityanath as a great opportunity in this regard. S.K. Nath, former office bearer of the Tripura state Nath Kalyan Committee, told The Sunday Guardian: “We hope that Yogi Adityanath can help in realising our OBC quota demand in the state.”
Speaking about the preparations for the election campaign in Tripura, a local Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) functionary said: “The BJP’s preparations for the Tripura Assembly elections are on for over two years and all the social wings, including the RSS, associated to the BJP are working on the ground to make BJP stronger in the state.”
In the 2013 Assembly elections, the BJP had fielded 50 candidates in Tripura out of which 49 candidates lost even their deposits, but after the joining of a large number of leaders and workers from the Congress, CPI-M and other parties in the last one year, the BJP, for the first time in the history of Tripura, has emerged as one of the key contenders in the state.
Biplab Kumar Deb, head of Tripura BJP, told The Sunday Guardian: “The BJP is no longer a weak competitor in Tripura, and under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the party is confident of winning the Assembly elections. Tripura has been in focus and for that reason, many development projects were launched by the Centre in the state.”
Till recently, the BJP was almost a non-entity in the Northeast, but now the party has gained significant popularity in these states.
Besides Tripura, Assembly elections will be held in Meghalaya and Nagaland on 27 February this year. The counting of votes will be on 3 March.