Kolkata: The BJP may have joined hands with the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) to take on the Left in the upcoming state polls in Tripura. But the move seems to have driven a wedge through representatives of the state’s tribal community.
Another tribal body, Tipraland State Party (TSP), has now emerged as the sole organization to press forward the demand for a separate state.
TSP alleged that the IPFT has betrayed the trust of Tripura’s tribal population by surrendering before the BJP and giving up its separate statehood demand.
Speaking to News18, Tipraland State Party (TSP) President, Chitta Ranjan Debbarma said, “To intensify our movement, for the first time we are contesting the Assembly elections in 10 out of the 60 seats on our own strength. We knew that IPFT will give up the separate statehood demand and will have a hidden understanding with the BJP.”
“The BJP-IPFT alliance is based on some common minimum programme for socio-economic, educational, linguistic and political development of indigenous communities. There is no mention of separate statehood in that programme,” he added.
“Our sole objective is Tipraland and we will not settle for anything less. We may not be able to make much difference in the upcoming polls but this is just the beginning to expose IPFT’s double standard,” Debbarma said.
There are nearly 12 lakh tribal voters in Tripura and TSP is hopes to make a mark in these elections by garnering a significant chunk of that support. The party has fielded candidates from Mandai (where several people were massacred on June 8, 1980 by tribal insurgents), Takarjala, Asharam Bari, Kalyanpur, Teliamura, Raima Valley, Amarpur, Chawmanu, Pecharthal and Kanchanpur seats.
“Our election symbol is ‘Violin’ and its ‘Bows’ and our election slogan is ‘Sudhu Tipraland’ (Only Tipraland). Out of the 10 seats where we are contesting, three are general seats and the rest are reserved,” the TSP President revealed.
The royal kingdom of Twipra kingdom merged with independent India after the death of its last king, Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur Debbarma. The transition of Tripura from a nominal to a full-fledged democracy resulted in mass influx of refugees between 1949 and 1972. The phenomenon reduced the 19 indigenous tribes of the state to becoming minorities.
“We want a separate state to save our identity, culture and language,” Debbarma said.
As per alliance terms, BJP is contesting in 51 seats and the IPFT has fielded its candidates from nine constituencies reserved for tribal people.
CPI (M) MLA Pravat Chowdhury said, “There is no BJP wave in Tripura and it is all hype. They are raising the slogan of ‘Cholo Bodlai’ (Lets Change) but we are certainly going to form the next government. The BJP-IPFT honeymoon will soon be over.”
Tripura will go to polls in a single phase on February 18 and results will be declared on March 3.