Tripura tribal party withdraws candidates in Lok Sabha polls, offers support for Congress

Debraj Deb
INPT president and rebel-turned-politician Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl held a joint press conference with Pradesh Congress president Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarma.

Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra (INPT), a tribal regional party of Tripura, Sunday withdrew its candidates from all two Lok Sabha seats of the state and offered support to the Congress party.

Addressing a press conference here this evening, INPT president and rebel-turned-politician Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl said they have discussed their key demands with Congress and found them to be similar.

"INPT is one of the oldest regional parties of the state. We have discussed with Congress president Rahul Gandhi and we feel they are understanding the ground situation. We hereby withdraw candidates from both Lok Sabha seats and declare to support Congress," Hrangkhawl said.

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In 1978, insurgent outfit Tripura National Volunteers (TNV) was formed as a youth wing of Tripura Upajati Juba Samiti (TUJS), the only anti-left indigenous party at the time, which went on to form the state government in alliance with Congress in 1988. TNV went underground demanding self-determination of indigenous people and a sovereign Tripura under Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl, leading to severe bloodbath which ended with the TNV Accord being signed by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1988.
Hrangkhawl joined politics with Tripura Upajati Juba Samiti and moved on to INPT in 2002. He was elected once as MLA from Ambassa assembly constituency in Dhalai district.

Earlier this month, INPT severed alliance talks with Congress and announced candidates in both Lok Sabha seats of Tripura.
Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl said he would contest from East Tripura ST reserved seat and INPT general secretary Jagadish Debbarma would contest from West Tripura seat.

However, Sunday Hrangkhawl said in a joint press conference with Pradesh Congress president Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarma that the candidates were withdrawn.

Pradyot informed he is in talks with IPFT – Tipraha, National Conference of Tripura (NCT) and other regional parties for the Lok Sabha polls.

Tripura ‘princess' and Congress candidate for East Tripura seat Pragya Deb Burman told reporters that she is confident of victory since people are frustrated with BJP’s betrayal in fulfilling the promises made in Vision Document.

Pragya is a new entrant in politics and is contesting elections for the first time. She is a remote sensing and GIS scientist.

Congress’ candidate in West Tripura seat Subal Bhowmik said if voted to power, he would exert pressure on Tripura’s BJP-IPFT government to fulfill their election promises made in the Vision Document.

Tripura has two Lok Sabha seats with 25,98,290 voters scheduled to exercise their adult franchise rights on April 11 and April 18 at West Tripura and East Tripura Lok Sabha constituencies respectively. Parliament elections would be held in the state in two phases this year.