Putting rest to all speculations, the leaders of the ruling BJP and its ally Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) on Saturday announced that their alliance will continue.
However, IPFT president Prem Kumar Reang and general secretary Prasanta Debbarma were absent at the media briefing during which the announcement was made.
IPFT’s two top leaders were also not available on the phone.
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Saha, accompanied by state BJP party president Rajib Bhattacharjee and former chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb, said that the BJP has allotted five seats to the IPFT against nine seats in the 2018 assembly polls.
IPFT’s youth wing leader Sukla Charan Noatia said that they would announce their candidates very soon.
Earlier, the IPFT leaders, including the party president and the General Secretary, held a series of meetings with the influential opposition tribal-based party Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance’s (TIPRA) led by former royal scion Pradyot Bikram Manikya Deb Barman.
Hours before Saturday evening’s BJP-IPFT media briefing, Deb Barman tweeted: “All the IPFT leaders are surprisingly not picking up their calls. Been waiting to hear from them since 11 a.m. Looks like operation lotus is on.”
In another tweet, the former royal scion said: “Many calls coming from everywhere! Reports of thousands of IPFT supporters joining us.”
After the BJP-led Central government rejected its separate ‘Greater Tipraland’ state demand, TIPRA supremo Deb Barman on Friday announced to contest the February 16 Tripura Assembly elections alone, leading to a new political dimension ahead of the election.
The Union Home Ministry had called the TIPRA leaders to Delhi on Wednesday to discuss the demand and Union Home Minister Amit Shah was to meet the tribal leaders led by Deb Barman.
However, these did not bear any fruit.
“We have repeatedly said that until we don’t get written assurance from the Central government on the Constitutional solution to our demand, we will not go in for any alliance, leave alone seat-sharing. Please don’t jump the gun and relax – we know how to negotiate for our people to the maximum,” Deb Barman had said.
In the 2018 assembly polls, the BJP and IPFT secured 36 and 8 seats, respectively, in the 60 member house while the remaining 16 seats went in favour of the CPI-M.