IPFT, still a force to reckon with in Tripura
SUBHASHIS MITTRA- Wide Angle
The Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT) will remain a force to reckon with in the poll-bound distant north-eastern state.
Keeping this in mind, the BJP will continue to have an electoral alliance with the local Tripura outfit in the upcoming Assembly elections.
The BJP and the IPFT had fought the Assembly elections together in 2018 and wrested power from the Left Front. The combine bagged 43 of the 60 seats. The BJP got 35 seats and the IPFT 8, giving the alliance a two-thirds majority.
Meanwhile, a new party, TIPRA Motha, has risen among the tribal ranks since last year. Much of its rise has been at the cost of the IPFT, many of whose leaders have joined the new outfit.
Last month, IPFT MLA Mevar Kumar Jamatia resigned from the state assembly, making him the third legislator from IPFT to exit the party since last year. Mevar’s wife and close associates too joined TIPRA Motha this year.
The former tribal welfare minister joined the Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance (TIPRA) Motha.
Prior to this, Dhananjoy Tripura, who won the 2018 polls from Raimavalley assembly constituency in Dhalai district on an IPFT ticket, left the party to join royal scion Pradyot Kishore Debbarma’s party TIPRA Motha.
A year ago, IPFT legislator Brishaketu Debbarma had dumped the party to join TIPRA Motha. He won the previous elections from Simna constituency.
With these resignations, the number of IPFT legislators dropped to five.
However, asserting that the BJP has a long tradition of maintaining coalition dharma, the party said it will continue its alliance with the IPFT in the Assembly elections slated early next year.
State BJP chief Rajib Bhattacharjee has said the electoral bond will continue with the IPFT.
"The BJP's central leadership recently held a meeting with the senior leaders of the regional party in New Delhi where a well-designed election strategy was chalked out for the 2023 elections," he said.
Bhattacharjee, at the same time, ruled out any truck with Tipra Motha, another regional party, which is ruling the northeastern state's lone autonomous district council.
"There has been no discussion or dialogue regarding stitching alliance with Tipra Motha," he said without mincing words.
On the other hand, Tipra Motha has kept its doors open for a possible tie up with any political party that backs the ‘Greater Tipraland’ demand.
Animesh Debbarma, a central committee member of Tipra Motha and Deputy Chief Executive Member (DCEM) of Tripura Tribal Areas of Autonomous District Council (TTAADC), said, "The Tipra Motha is ready to talk to any political party, be it the BJP or the Congress over an electoral alliance, but will not compromise with 'Greater Tipraland' demand."
But as of now, there is no offer for a talk on alliance from any political party, he said. "We are a small regional party. Let the offer come from a big party. Our demand for Greater Tipraland is very much constitutional and not against any political party, group or people," he stated.
The demand for 'Greater Tipraland' seeks to include every tribal living inside and outside the TTAADC area. The 'Greater Tipraland' idea does not restrict only to Tripura. It seeks to include Tripuris living in Assam, Mizoram, and Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh as well.
In the recent TTAADC elections, Tipra had swept the polls by winning 18 seats out of 28. The BJP-IPFT alliance received a major blow with the BJP managing 9 seats and the IPFT, none.
The TTAADC polls are believed to have struck the death knell to BJP-IPFT ties, with indigenous MLAs of the latter quitting the party to join Tipra in large numbers.
Tipra’s meteoric rise in state politics have dealt a big blow to the BJP’s prospect for growth in the tribal-dominated areas as well as in the state’s 20 reserved seats.
The tribal-dominated areas contribute 20 seats – reserved for the Scheduled Tribes – to the 60-member state assembly.
Although Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Congress are poised to give a contest to the ruling BJP, the presence of Tipra queers their pitch in areas dominated by tribal population.
Tripura is likely to have its next assembly elections in February 2023. Till then, the state politics will definitely go through rough and tumble.