Tripura’s new party to take over tribal autonomous council

The ‘TIPRA Motha’, the newly formed tribal-based party which secured a landslide victory by defeating the ruling BJP-IPFT candidates in the April 6 elections to the politically important Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC), will take charge of the powerful autonomous body next week.

Amalgamating various local tribal-based parties and leaders and members of other parties, the ‘TIPRA Motha’ (tribal unity) headed by Tripura’s royal scion Pradyot Bikram Manikya Deb Barman was formed just a few months ago and scripted a new political history by capturing the TTAADC.

While talking to IANS, Deb Barman said that after the notification of Governor Ramesh Bais, the newly elected members of the TTAADC would take oath and the Executive Members will assume office next week.

Deb Barman, who would be the Chief Executive Member of the TTAADC, said that he would undertake schemes and programmes for the all round socio economic development of all ethnic groups of the tribals, who constitute one third of Tripura’s four million population.

“We would publish a white paper about the spending of the central and state funding and would not tolerate any corruption,” the 43-year-old tribal leader said.

Of the total 28 seats in the TTAADC, the ‘TIPRA Motha’ won 18 seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party secured nine seats while one seat went to an Independent candidate.

The results of the elections to the TTAADC are a major setback for the BJP-IPFT (Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura) alliance, which wrested power in Tripura in 2018 after defeating the CPI-M led Left parties that ruled the state for 25 years. However, the BJP for the first time won nine seats in the TTAADC though its junior ally IPFT, despite being a major tribal-based party, drew a blank.

Tripura’s oldest tribal-based party Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT), a former ally of the Congress, is also a partner of the ‘TIPRA Motha’, and its two candidates, including general secretary Jagadhish Debbarma, secured victory in the polls to the TTAADC, which has a jurisdiction on over two-thirds of Tripura’s 10,491 sq km area and is home to over 12,16,000 people, of which 90 per cent are tribals.

Deb Barman, who was earlier the state president of the Congress but quit the party in 2019 over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act issue, is the son of former Congress minister Bibhu Kumari Devi and ex-Congress Lok Sabha member Maharaja Kirit Bikram Kishore Deb Barman, who’s mother regent Maharani Kanchan Prabha Devi signed a merger agreement with the Governor General before the erstwhile princely Tripura merged with the Indian Union on October 15, 1949, ending the 1355-year-rule by 184 tribal kings.

The five-year tenure of the TTAADC, considered as a mini-state Assembly in terms of political significance, expired on May 17 last year and the BJP-led state government promulgated Governor’s rule by appointing a retired IAS officer as administrator the next day for a period of six months and then extended the term for another six months on November 17.

The opposition CPI-M, which was governing the TTAADC until May 17 last year, has also suffered a setback in the elections though it has a strong base among the tribals ever since the Left movement started in Tripura in the early 40s.

The IPFT has been agitating since 2009 for the creation of a separate state by upgrading the TTAADC while TIPRA Motha had recently raised the demand for a ‘greater Tipra land’ (greater areas for the indigenous tribals). Both the demands were, however, strongly opposed by all the political major parties, including the BJP, the CPI-M and the Congress.

The TTAADC was constituted under the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution in June 1985 for the socio-economic development of the tribals, who always played a significant role in Tripura politics.