Agartala: A continuous onslaught of Covid-19, recurring political turmoil, an intensifying factional feud in ruling BJP, as also a change in the main power corridor of Tripura politics – Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (ADC) – have made 2021 a landmark year in the history of this tiny Northeast Indian state.
Breaking the stranglehold of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) coalition, as also that of the over five-decade-old Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), a newborn NGO-turned-political outfit Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance (TIPRA) led by royal scion Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarman stunned political watchers by capturing the ADC.
Pradyot’s entry into ADC, which constitutes about 60 per cent of Tripura’s landmass with 32 per cent of the population, has changed the political landscape of the state.
The Biplab Kumar Deb government earned a bad name after BJP cadres led by its state vice president Rajib Bhattacharjee and two secretaries Tinku Roy and Papia Datta resorted to vandalising offices of four media houses from a rally in the city.
Before the attack, the government had disconnected the transmission of seven local channels through the cable network, allegedly for criticising the ruling front. As many as 14 attacks were reported on media houses and journalists in Tripura in 2021. That included the arrest of two Delhi-based journalists under sedition sections.
In the 2018 assembly elections, BJP won 11 of the 20 tribal reserved constituencies with the influence and support of IPFT, which bagged eight of the remaining 9 seats. But the IPFT was even unable to open its account in ADC elections held in April.
The IPFT has long been accusing the BJP of not complying with the alliance commitments. After the ADC drubbing, the IPFT claimed it was the sole reason for the erosion of their base in the hills and the big bang entry of the TIPRA.
Apart from facing a volley of missiles from their coalition partner, the BJP state leaders have also been accused of pursuing vendetta politics and non-implementation of the poll promises by a group of ruling party MLAs.
The anger against Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb had erupted in the presence of the party-in-charge Vinod Kumar Sonkar, as BJP workers raised slogans “Biplab Hatao BJP Bachao” (Evict Biplab to save BJP).
The BJP’s inner power struggles and the rising resentment against the chief minister and those calling the shots in the Tripura party unit have created multiple factions.
A group of BJP MLAs led by senior leader and former minister in Deb’s cabinet Sudip Roybarman had several rounds of talk with the central leadership seeking the Chief Minister’s removal. But his moves haven’t yet been successful.
As a peace formula, Deb’s cabinet was expanded after three and half years inducting three new faces including two dissident MLAs. The Speaker Rebati Mohan Das was also replaced.