How is Bharat Mata depicted? Usually, wearing a sari and holding the national flag. But with Assembly elections likely to be held in Tripura before March, the BJP has come up with depictions of Bharat Mata in the traditional attire of the four major tribal communities of the state.
Eventually, the party plans to bring out such tribe-specific images of Bharat Mata for all the tribes in the North-East.
“The idea is to counter the sense of alienation these tribes feel from the rest of the country. They too are a part of Bharat and Bharat Mata is theirs too. Each tribe has their unique culture and their unique dress, and we wanted to respect that,” said Sunil Deodhar, BJP in-charge for Tripura.
In the first phase, four tribal communities — Debbarma, Tripuri/Tripura, Reang and Chakma, which together constitute 77.8 per cent of the total tribal population in the state — will be represented in the images of ‘Bharat Mata’, which will be displayed at party programmes.
State party leaders said that while Debbarma is also the surname adopted by the Tripuri/ Tripura tribe, it is the generic term used for Kokborok-speaking people of the state, and their “traditional attire has certain differences”.
Party leaders said women in their early twenties, who either supported the BJP or are party members, were photographed wearing their respective tribe’s traditional attire for the photographs.
“Eventually, we will come up with such depictions of Bharat Mata for each of the 300 tribes in the North-East,” said Deodhar.
“Usually, at every BJP programme we have photographs of Bharat Mata, our founder Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya and Syama Prasad Mookerjee. We will be using these tribal depictions of Bharat Mata, along with the one in which Bharat Mata is seen wearing a sari, because Tripura also has a large population of Bengalis,” he said.
The tribal-dominated hilly areas of the state, according to the BJP, is key to success in the Assembly polls. In September, the BJP had approached the two major tribal-based parties of the state — Indigenous People’s Front of Twipra (IPFT) and the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra (INPT) — to join the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA).
The two parties, both united in their demand for separate statehood for Twipraland, have been the Left’s main opposition in the area for decades.
“Tribal areas, under the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council, constitute about 68 per cent of the total area in the state. Tribals account for one-third of the total population, of which almost 80 per cent are in these areas. Their support is key to victory in the state,” said a state BJP leader.
Of the tribes for which the BJP has come up with tribe-specific depictions of Bharat Mata, the Tripuri or Tripura, at 5.48 lakh (2001 census), comprise 54.7 per cent of the tribal population. According to the 2001 census, Reangs are the second-largest tribal community in the state with a population of 1.64 lakh (16.6 per cent), while the Chakma population is 61,793 (6.5 per cent).
The total tribal population was pegged at 9.3 lakh, accounting for 31 per cent of the state’s total population of 31.99 lakh (2001 census).