The Trinamool Congress (TMC) which contested 56 of the 60 seats in Meghalaya and 28 of the 60 seats in Tripura secured five seats and 13.78 per cent votes in Meghalaya and only 1.03 per cent votes in Tripura, where 1.36 per cent votes were polled for NOTA (None of The Above). Former Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, one of the key leaders of the TMC in Meghalaya, contested from two assembly seats — Songsak and Tikrikilla – both in the Garo hills. He won the Songsak seat by a thin margin of 372 votes defeating ruling NPP candidate Nihim D. Shira, but lost the Tikrikilla seat to NPP’s Jimmy D. Sangma by a margin of 5313 votes. The TMC candidate for Rajabala seat, Mizanur Rahman Kazi, won the seat by a narrow margin of just ten votes against NPP nominee Abdus Saleh.
TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accompanied by the party’s national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee had visited both Meghalaya and Tripura for campaigning and announced that most of the schemes introduced in West Bengal by the TMC government would be launched in the two north-eastern states if the party comes to power in these states. To woo the electorate, the TMC promised to roll out the Meghalaya Financial Inclusion for Women Empowerment (MFI WE) scheme that would provide an assured monthly income support of Rs 1,000 per woman per household in the state, if the party was voted to power. The scheme, also called ‘WE Card’ however could not translate into votes for the TMC.
Similarly, after the TMC was founded in 1997-1998, it had set up bases in Tripura, Manipur and Assam but the party could not maintain the political tempo in these states. There were seven MLAs of other parties that once joined the TMC in Manipur but eventually, they quit one by one. The election results in Meghalaya showed that the people are not ready yet to accept the party. It also has a baggage of an “outsider” tag which was successfully used by its opponents to thwart its electoral chances in the State. That Garo Hills saw the TMC decimated is a matter that Mukul Sangma and party leaders will have to introspect. Similarly, the TMC faced an electoral debacle in Tripura, something it did not expect.
As TMC failed to make its impact in Meghalaya, it also drew a blank in Tripura where former Congress leader Pradyut Manakya formed the Tipra Motha and got 13 seats, denting the Congress. According to the results declared by the Election Commission on March 2, the BJP has captured Tripura for the second time in a row. The tribal-based Tipra Motha, which for the first time contested 42 seats on its own, emerged as the second largest party securing 13 seats. The CPI-M won 11 seats while the Congress bagged three. The TMC has failed in Assam and has no base in other north-eastern states except Meghalaya and Tripura. The party should now go back to the drawing board and re-strategise its political plans for the North East.
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