In a major setback for the BJP in Tripura, three women leaders of its alliance partner Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) Sunday joined the Congress, as the campaign for the Lok Sabha elections picks up the pace in the state. IPFT and BJP had together won 44 out of 60 seats in the state legislative Assembly last year and formed a coalition government.
Speaking to reporters at Raj Andar, Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Pradyot Kishore Mankya Debburman said that he had sought to build a unified struggle against the BJP but initially the IPFT leaders had turned down his proposal.
IPFT surfaced in 2009 with the demand of ‘Tipraland’ – a separate state for tribal communities comprising of Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) areas. Pradyot today said IPFT women leaders joined Congress because they were pained at the betrayal meted out to tribals in the name of statehood.
“People believed that ‘Tipraland’ will be formed. But they were fooled and cheated. Some leaders, who are members of the state cabinet, have cheated their own people”, Pradyot said in an oblique reference to IPFT supremo NC Debbarma and general secretary Mevar Kumar Jamatia who are ministers for revenue and tribal welfare in the Biplab Deb cabinet. He further added that the Congress party has assured all tribal regional parties to introduce Kokborok in 8th Schedule of the Constitution, ensure direct funding to Tripura ADC and scrap the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) which took Northeast India by storm in January this year.
The two Parliamentary constituencies are scheduled to go to polls on April 11 and April 18 respectively.