Tripura’s ruling alliance partner Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) Saturday announced candidates for both the Lok Sabha seats in state and said the decision was taken after their ally BJP declined to share seats with them.
Addressing a press conference after intense brainstorming on poll tactics for two days, IPFT supremo NC Debbarma said he would contest from East Tripura (ST reserved) constituency and youth tribal leader Suklacharan Noatia would contest as IPFT candidate from West Tripura Lok Sabha constituency, adding that they would put up a “friendly fight” with BJP in the upcoming election.
“We are a partner of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) and National Democratic Alliance (NDA). NEDA and NDA partners in Assam and elsewhere are given chance to contest in Lok Sabha polls. But we were denied that chance. BJP leaders suggested us to engage in friendly fight with them at East Tripura Lok Sabha seat and reserve candidate in the other seat. We have decided to have a friendly fight on both seats,” NC Debbarma said.
Earlier in the day, Tripura BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharya said his party would contest in both Lok Sabha seats of Tripura. Bhattacharya also said that BJP is confident of victory in both seats. “We are not thinking about IPFT at all. They were informed about our decision way back,” the BJP leader told indianexpress.com. NC Debbarma is also a senior member of the state cabinet and is in charge of the revenue portfolio.
However, IPFT general Secretary Mevar Kumar Jamatia was less impressed with BJP’s dialogue with them regarding seat sharing arrangement. “We approached BJP several times to contest in one Lok Sabha seat. But they declined to agree to our plea. So, we have decided to contest in both seats alone,” Mevar said. Mevar is also Minister for Forest and Tribal Welfare in Tripura’s BJP-IPFT government.
IPFT spokesperson Mangal Debbarma said on Wednesday that BJP leaders did not take them into account while deciding candidates for Lok Sabha polls from Tripura. The tribal party submitted a memorandum to BJP president Amit Shah during his visit to Tripura in January this year and sought to hold dialogue on selection of candidate.
Tripura has two Lok Sabha seats with 25,98,290 voters scheduled to exercise their adult franchise rights on April 11 and April 18 at West Tripura and East Tripura Lok Sabha constituencies respectively. Parliament elections would be held in the state in two phases this year.
IPFT has eight MLAs in the 60 member Tripura legislative Assembly while BJP has 36 legislators. The tribal party is the only ally of BJP in Tripura.