Agartala: In a setback for Tripura’s royal scion Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarman, tribal based Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) has deserted his NGO turned political platform Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance (TIPRA) within a fortnight of joining it.
The IPFT leaders held meeting till late night yesterday with Deputy Chief Minister Jishnu Dev Varma and BJP Lok Sabha MP and party’s tribal front chief Rebati Tripura to retain the alliance and fight the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (ADC) polls together.
However, the meeting was inconclusive as both sides could not agree on seat sharing and BJP leaders claimed a deal would be struck by Saturday, as IPFT has no other option but to accept its offer.
Accusing the BJP-led government at the Centre and in Tripura for neglecting the pre-poll commitments and asserting both IPFT and Pradyot want Tipraland or Greater Tipraland to bring an end to the social-economic and deprivation of indigenous communities by carving out a separate state with all areas under the jurisdiction of the ADC, IPFT leaders had signed an MoU with the royal scion at Ujjayanta Palace on February 19 last to fight against BJP, Congress and CPI (M) in the elections.
The IPFT and TIPRA along with other tribal-based parties held a joint rally to press for their demand on February 24 last at ADC headquarters Khumlung.
But afterwards the coalition ran into trouble over disagreement on seat sharing between TIPRA constituents with IPFT claiming a lion’s share.
After several rounds of discussion IPFT was offered 10 seats in the 28 members ADC, which it rejected.
Meantime, BJP’s top leadership is keen on retaining the alliance to prevent TIPRA despite a strong opposition from all the 10 tribal BJP MLAs and MP Rebati Tripura.
In a letter written to BJP’s top brass, the tribal MLAs explained how the saffron base in the hills had been eroded by IPFT besides massive violence against BJP workers and supporters.
With the signal from Delhi, BJP state leaders made it clear to IPFT that unless they partner with the saffron party without pre-conditions, they will be removed from the cabinet, as Chairmen of Block Advisory Committees and PSUs, and most importantly CBI will step in to investigate the journalist Shantau Bhowmik’s murder case in which IPFT leaders are the prime accused, said a top BJP leader here today.
Anticipating a bleak future and trouble, IPFT has stepped down from TIPRA and agreed to the proposal of BJP.
Initially, BJP had considered offering 14 of the 28 seats to IPFT in the ADC polls but after they switched sides to TIPRA, BJP local leadership decided to play tough with its junior ally, and according to reports, in yesterday’s meeting, it offered the tribal party only eight seats while maintaining that the offer is non-negotiable.
“The IPFT has exposed itself as an opportunist in Tripura politics. They tried to adopt pressure tactics on BJP by announcing an alliance with team Pradyot, raising slogan for greater tribal unity but ultimately they betrayed him, too, at the last moment, which has impacted the innocent tribal minds in the hill. They have been cheating tribals in the name of Tipraland and their divisive role against tribal and non-tribal unity. The leaders of IPFT are enjoying power. Now, time has come to eliminate them from the state politics,” said a senior tribal BJP leader.
Shocked by IPFT’s move, an emotional Pradyot Kishore cried while addressing a rally in Bishramganj of Sepahijala district along with veteran INPT leader Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawal.
“My own people (indigenous party) have betrayed us for narrow personal gains. Today, they appear to be the enemy of the tribals of Tripura. Let us vow to teach them a lesson in ADC elections scheduled on April 4 next,” Pradyot said.
“I am not communal as some want to paint me. TIPRA stands for all, Bengalis, Tripuris, Manipuri, Muslims and all. We are fighting for a cause and to develop the people of Tripura beyond dirty politics,” Pradyot reiterated.