Tripura ruling ally threatens agitation over separate state issue

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Agartala, April 25 (IANS) The Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), an ally in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Tripura government, on Wednesday reiterated its demand for a separate state for tribals but the latter said no such issue figured in the pre-poll joint declaration.

Going a step further, the IPFT leaders even threatened to launch an agitation to press for fulfilment of their demand.

“Since 2009, we are agitating for upgrading the existing Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) to a separate tribal state. In January, the central government assured to constitute a high-level Inter-Ministerial Modalities Committee (IIMC) to study the socio-economic, cultural and linguistic aspects of the tribals,” IPFT vice president Ananta Debbarma told the media.

The TTAADC has jurisdiction over two-thirds of Tripura’s 10,491 sq.km area that is home to over 12,16,000 people, mostly tribals.

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Debbarma said: “The proposed IIMC is supposed to submit its report and recommendations to the central government within three months from the date of its formation. But, despite repeated requests, the Central government is yet to constitute the committee.”

The IPFT leader said that if the Central government did not constitute the IIMC within the next three months, it would launch an agitation.

“Apart from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Minister of State for PMO Jitendra Singh also assured to form the IIMC in a series of meetings with the IPFT leaders in Delhi in January,” the tribal leader claimed.

He said that Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma facilitated the talks between the Central government and the IPFT leaders.

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Sarma, a Congress rebel who joined the BJP in August 2016, is the Convenor of the alliance of regional parties — North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA).

The tribal-based party is also demanding one more berth in the ministry. Currently, there are two ministers in the nine-member BJP-IPFT coalition ministry.

The BJP, however, said that the joint declaration of the BJP-IPFT before the assembly polls did not mention any such demand as a separate state for the tribals.

“If the Centre gave any assurance to the IPFT, definitely it would be done. Inclusion of a member of IPFT in the council of ministry is the prerogative of Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb,” state BJP spokesman Mrinal Kanti Deb said.

“Irrespective of the IPFT’s demand or threat for agitation, absolutely there is no crisis in the BJP-led government,” said a confident young party leader.

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In the February 18 assembly polls, the BJP and its electoral ally IPFT together won 44 seats in the 60-member assembly, with the dominating party alone getting 36 seats.

–IANS

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