BJP, Congress face challenges from allies in Tripura

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Agartala, March 18 (IANS) The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress in Tripura are likely to face electoral challenges as their traditional allies — IPFT and INPT, both tribal parties — have decided to field candidates in the two Lok Sabha seats in the state.

The BJP on Monday appealed the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), its ally, to not field any candidate, but the IPTF is firm on contesting the polls.

In a first major setback to the year-old BJP-led coalition government in Tripura, the IPFT on Saturday announced candidates for Tripura West and Tripura East seats.

The statutory notification for the Tripura West seat was issued on Monday.

The Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT), the state’s oldest tribal party, has also announced its candidates for the two Lok Sabha seats after seat-sharing talks with the Congress failed.

INPT President Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl would contest the Tripura East seat, while party General Secretary Jagadish Debbarma would fight from the Tripura West seat.

“A party delegation, led by Hrangkhawl, met Congress President Rahul Gandhi in Delhi last week and discussed the seat-sharing issue. We had approached the Congress to allot Tripura East seat to the INPT,” INPT Vice-President Amiya Kumar Debbarma said on Monday.

But the Congress asked us to contest as independent from Tripura East, which was not acceptable to us, Debbarma said.

IPFT President and state Revenue Minister Narendra Chandra Debbarma told IANS he would file his nomination papers for the Tripura East seat on Friday. Another party nominee Sukhla Charan Noatia may submit his nomination papers for the Tripura West constituency the same day.

“After the declaration of the IPFT nominees, we have not received any communication from the BJP over the issue,” the veteran tribal leader said.

However, BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharjee said the party has been requesting the IPFT to withdraw their candidates.

“Informal talks between the BJP and the IPFT to resolve the issue are on. We are hope the IPFT would respect the coalition principles in the best of interest of the parties and the people,” Bhattacharjee said.

Tripura Chief Minister and BJP’s State President Biplab Kumar Deb, on return from New Delhi on Sunday after holding talks with party leaders to finalise candidates for the two seats, urged the IPFT to uphold the “raj dharma” (duty of governance).

“The IPFT announced candidates without discussing the issue with us,” Deb told the media.

Meanwhile, Election Commission (EC) Secretary Arvind Anand on Monday held a series of meetings with political parties and senior officials in the state.

Polling for Tripura West will be held in the first phase on Aprill 11 and Tripura East in the second phase on April 18. Votes will be counted on May 23.

–IANS

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