Tripura ruling coalition member Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) has been holding seat-sharing talks with both current ally BJP and opposition Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance (TIPRA) for the February 16 assembly polls.
IPFT President and state minister Prem Kumar Reang on Sunday said that they held a close door meeting with the TIPRA leaders led by party supremo Pradyot Bikram Manikya Deb Barman in Guwahati on Saturday.
“We are now talking with both the BJP and the TIPRA. Our seat-sharing talks remained inconclusive so far. Once this is finalised we would announce it before the public,” the veteran tribal leader told IANS.
The IPFT, since 2009, has been demanding to make the areas under the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) as a full-fledged state while the TIPRA, since 2021, has been demanding elevation of the TTAADC areas by granting of ‘Greater Tipraland State’ under Article 2 and 3 of the Constitution.
After the Saturday’s meeting in Guwahati, Reang said that the Central government and the BJP did not respond to their demand and if the BJP fulfilled its demands, “we would certainly fight the forthcoming polls jointly”.
“Deb Barman has been wholeheartedly fighting for the cause of the indigenous tribals. We are ready to fight the elections together. Talks are going on among us,” he said.
On his part, Deb Barman told the media in Guwahati that the leaders of both the parties have started talks for merger or fighting together during which issues on common flag and symbol would be discussed.
About alliances with any other party, he said: “The party or parties which would give written assurance supporting our demand, we would forge electoral alliance with them. It is completely false propaganda that we would go into alliance with BJP or Congress or CPI-M.”
Deb Barman said that the TIPRA, the IPFT, and all other like-minded parties can fight the upcoming Assembly polls together on a common symbol for the greater cause of the tribals, who constitute one third of Tripura’s little over four million population.
Responding to the influential tribal-based party’s appeal, the IPFT held discussions with them in Guwahati on Saturday.
The BJP, however, is yet to make any comment about the IPFT-TIPRA’s seat sharing talks.
“Officially we have no information about the seat sharing talks between the TIPRA and the IPFT,” BJP spokesman Nabendu Bhattacharjee told IANS.
The TIPRA is now ruling the politically-important 30-member TTAADC, which has jurisdiction over two-third of Tripura’s 10,491 square km area and is home to over 12,16,000 people, of which around 84 per cent are tribals, making the autonomous council a mini-Assembly.
The BJP, in alliance with the tribal-based party IPFT, came to power in the 2018 Assembly polls thrashing the CPI-M-led Left, which governed the northeastern state for 35 year in two phases (1978-1988 and 1993-2018).