In a major rift between Tripura’s ruling allies, Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Janajati Morcha (ST frontal organisation) has demanded to immediately sever ties with Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT), their tribal partner in state government.
The BJP and IPFT had jointly secured 44 seats in the 60 member state assembly elections and formed the government decimating 25 years of CPI (M)-led Left Front rule. BJP secured 36 seats alone and gained single majority in the House. IPFT, which emerged victorious in 8 seats, was later allotted two berths in the state cabinet.
Speaking to reporters today, Janajati Morcha president Sanjoy Debbarma said IPFT is spreading chaos in the state over different issues. “They are spreading chaos. Development works of the state government are worst hit due to this. Common people are fed up with their activities,” he said.
The BJP leader also said the demand was placed before BJP state president and Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb.
“We have urged the CM to remove IPFT from the alliance. He told us that the coalition was agreed upon by BJP’s central leadership and assured us that the problem will be discussed with them,” Sanjoy Debbarma said.
BJP state vice-president and Janajati Morcha leader Rampada Jamatia accused IPFT supporters of attacking his house at Killa yesterday. He said many other leaders including MLA of Golaghati constituency – Birchandra Debbarma were also attacked by IPFT supporters.
“MLA Birchandra Debbarma lodged an FIR with the police. IPFT supporters have held attacks on his family to force him to withdraw the FIR. They are also involved in criminal offences in different parts of the state. We have demanded that legal action be taken against them and the alliance with IPFT be severed immediately,” Rampada Jamatia said.
Reacting to the issue, IPFT spokesperson and assistant general secretary Mangal Debbarma said his party wants peace and development but wouldn’t object if BJP proposes to sever alliance. Mangal said BJP supporters have started the clashes everywhere and later blamed IPFT for them.
He also said a section of BJP leaders were involved in conspiracies to disrupt the alliance with IPFT since they would be able to gain cabinet berths in absence of IPFT in the alliance. “If we leave the alliance, two posts in the cabinet will be vacant and indigenous leaders in BJP can grab those seats. They are plotting to disturb the alliance for this reason,” Mangal said.
IPFT supremo NC Debbarma and General Secretary Mevar Kumar Debbarma are currently members in the state cabinet. The former was given the revenue portfolio while Mevar was named minister for tribal welfare and forests.
The IPFT leader also claimed that they had joined hands with BJP in state government to strengthen their movement for ‘Tipraland’.
‘Tipraland’ is a proposed separate state for indigenous communities of Tripura. IPFT was floated in 1997 with this demand — the party suffered splits and resurfaced in 2009 but didn’t budge from the core agenda.
“We want Tipraland and shall continue the struggle for that. We don’t care how many seats we get in the government. If BJP thinks they can run the government without us, then so be it. They have the single majority. But the indigenous people are with us,” Mangal said.
BJP and IPFT will contest against each other in bye-elections of three-tier panchayat bodies on September 30. The parties had earlier announced that they will contest “separately”, which effectively means against each other, in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
At least 19 persons including BJP, IPFT supporters and policemen were injured in a series of clash between the two parties in different districts across the state in the last three days. The clashes erupted during submission of nomination papers for coming panchayat by-polls.
Both IPFT and BJP have blamed each other for the clashes. IPFT has written to the State Election Commission seeking to countermand polls in panchayat bodies under the areas where they couldn’t submit nominations due to violence.