BJP’s ally IPFT in Tripura forges alliance with others

Antagonising the ruling BJP, its junior ally IPFT on Friday night forged an alliance with another smaller tribal based parties to fight the upcoming polls to the tribal autonomous body.

Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) President Narendra Chandra Debbarma and General Secretary Mevar Kumar Jamatia, both are ministers of the BJP led council of ministry headed by Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, however, said that they are still in coalition with the saffron party.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesman Nabendu Bhattacharjee told IANS on late Friday night that the IPFT did not share their decision with them.

“However, our senior leaders are discussing the latest political development,” Bhattacharjee said.

Tripura royal scion Pradyot Bikram Manikya Deb Barman, who was earlier state President of Congress but subsequently quit the party in 2019, on Friday formed an alliances of few tribal based parties and named TIPRA, the Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance.

Deb Barman told the media that for the greater cause of the “Tipra land” (a territory for the tribals) they would fight together in the ensuing elections to the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC), a politically important constitutional body. Deb Barman later in the Friday evening held a close door meeting with Debbarma and Jamatia and other senior IPFT leaders before he announce to contest the TTAADC polls together.

The IPFT leaders also told the media that they are still with the BJP led government and part of BJP floated regional body Northeast Democratic Alliance (NEDA), convener of which is Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

Political circles observed that the IPFT took the decision after the BJP leaders yet to allot majority of the seats to field party (IPFT) candidates in the TTAADC elections likely to be held before May 17. BJP leaders are also keen to contest a majority of the 28 TTAADC seats to strengthen their political base in the tribal areas.

The BJP in alliance with IPFT won the 2018 assembly polls defeating the CPI-M led Left Front. In the 60-member Tripura assembly, BJP has 36 seats and the IPFT eight and CPI-M has16.Another tribal based anti-BJP party — Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT) leaders also on Friday night announced to maintain alliance with the grouping floated by Pradyot Bikram Manikya Deb Barman.

The IPFT has been agitating since 2009 for the creation of a separate state by upgrading the TTAADC, which has jurisdiction over two-thirds of Tripura’s 10,491 sq km area and home to over 12,16,000 people, 90 per cent of whom are tribals. The IPFT’s demand, however, is strongly opposed by all the political major parties including the BJP, the CPI-M and the Congress.

The five-year tenure of the TTAADC expired on May 17 last year and the state government promulgated Governor’s rule by appointing a retired IAS officer as Administrator next day for a period of six months and then extending the term for another six months on November 17 last year.