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ADC polls: Tripura royal scion seals mega merger of tribal outfits, alliance with BJP’s ruling partner

Confirming that the IPFT and TIPRA would fight the tribal council polls together, Debbarma said the two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on fighting the election in alliance and have urged other tribal outfits to join hands.

Written by Debraj Deb | Agartala |
Updated: February 19, 2021 10:23:47 pm
Pradyot Manikya Debbarma announced that his outfit had reached an understanding with IPFT, a partner in the ruling alliance with the BJP, on a number of issues, including the upcoming tribal council polls, on Friday evening, saying that the alliance will continue even after the election. (Source: Debraj Deb)

Three months ahead of the election to the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC), which has been on hold since last year, royal scion and former Congress leader Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarma’s newly-minted The Indigenous People’s Regional Alliance (TIPRA) Friday announced a merger with two tribal outfits – Tipraland State Party and Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) Tipraha. With the merger, his front is now the single-largest tribal affiliate in the state.

The scion, who formerly headed the state Congress, also announced that his outfit had reached an understanding with IPFT, a partner in the ruling alliance with the BJP, on a number of issues, including the upcoming tribal council polls, on Friday evening, saying that the alliance will continue even after the election.

He also revealed that his tribal front had rechristened itself as Tipraha Indigenous People’s Regional Alliance.

Saying he was optimistic of a mandate in his outfit’s favour, Pradyot added that if elected, the TIPRA-IPFT combine would pass a resolution for a ‘Greater Tipraland’ in the district council.

“We demand a Tipraland state as it is the only recourse for guaranteeing the existence of our indigenous communities in their own land. The Tipraland statehood demand shall include all TTAADC areas apart from the habitations of other indigenous people across the state,” the TIPRA chief said.

Speaking at a press conference later in the evening, IPFT supremo and Revenue Minister NC Debbarma said, “We’ve been part of a democratic movement to end economic and social deprivation of our indigenous communities by carving out a separate state with all areas under the jurisdiction of the ADC. Maharaja Pradyot Kishore is striving to reach the same goals as us. After several rounds of talks, we have finally decided to work together to ensure protection of the Constitutional rights of all indigenous people in the state.”

The veteran leader added that an understanding was also reached on the issue of building a combined democratic movement through contesting future elections in alliance with a common objective of safeguarding the interests of the tribal communities.

Confirming that the IPFT and TIPRA would fight the tribal council polls together, Debbarma said the two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on fighting the election in alliance and have urged other tribal outfits to join hands.

IPFT general secretary and Tribal Welfare minister Mevar Kumar Jamatia said his party merged with TIPRA after a series of talks on the demand for Tipraland.

Pradyot said ‘thancha’ (unity) over ‘Kokborok’, the lingua franca of the state’s indigenous people, had been achieved as 95 per cent of tribal parties are with TIPRA on the issue of Greater Tipraland. “We are organising a mega rally on February 24 to push for Greater Tipraland. We are confident the mindset of Tiprasa will be reflected in the rally,” Pradyot said.

IPFT leaders, however, clarified that their alliance with BJP is safe and will continue, even as they are ‘unhappy’ with its performance when it comes to implementing the poll promises on tribal welfare and development. “We are not happy at their (BJP) performance on ensuring upliftment of the tribal communities. However, we respect the people’s mandate and will remain in alliance with the BJP,” Mevar said.

The tribal leader stressed that the IPFT is a separate political entity which doesn’t need to take permission from its ruling partner for taking its own decisions.

The tribal party, which emerged victorious in 8 seats in 2018 assembly elections, fought in alliance with the BJP which bagged 36 seats, decimating the 25-year Communist rule in the state.

The interim charge of the autonomous tribal council was vested in the Governor after the state cabinet decided to extend its tenure by another six months last year. The fresh term would expire on May 17 this year, by which time the high court directed the state government to hold the elections. On January 12, the government filed an affidavit before the high court, saying it would conduct the polls by May 17.

Of the total 30 seats in the Council, 28 are filled electorally and the remaining two are reserved for nominated members. Formed on January 18, 1982, the TTAADC covers 68 per cent of the total geographical area of Tripura. The ADC-administered areas comprise one-third of the state’s population.

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