The call for a ‘double-engine’ government in the State was repeated in the recently held Tripura Assembly election, 2023. The incumbent Chief Minister Manik Saha, during the campaigning, reiterated that for the development of the State, it was necessary to have the same ruling party in Tripura and at the Centre. He emphasised that Tripura could secure the benefits of development only because a double-engine government headed by the BJP was in power at both levels. However, this rhetoric is often criticised by the Opposition parties and has reignited debates on the relationship between the State and the Centre. But did this discourse really affect the attitudes of voters in the Tripura election?
In the survey it was found that proportionally higher numbers of voters were in favour of a double-engine government in Tripura— 34% were strongly favouring it as compared to 21% who strongly opposed it. The slice of voters who opposed it was relatively important if we compared this with the previous Tripura Assembly election held in 2018, when the BJP got a massive victory in the State. In the 2018 election when voters were asked for their opinions on the double-engine government, only 13% of the voters were strongly against the idea of having the same government at the Centre and the State, for the development of Tripura. The strong opposition to the double-engine government had gone up by 8 percentage points in the 2018 Tripura election. As outlined in another article in this series, it may well be a reflection of the heightened polarised politics in the State.
Expectedly, the support for a double-engine government was much higher among the BJP+IPFT voters— close to three in five voters of this alliance strongly supported the idea of a double-engine government whereas 16% of voters of the Left+INC alliance and 9% of voters of TIPRA Motha voted strongly in favour of having the same government in the State as at the Centre. In fact, the Motha voters strongly rejected the idea of a double-engine government in Tripura— 40% of them straightforwardly rejected the idea of having a double-engine government in the State.
To summarise, we can say that though there was support for a double-engine government in Tripura; in comparison to the previous Assembly election, there has been a rise in the numbers of those against the idea.
(Authors are researchers at Lokniti-CSDS)