Updated: October 18, 2021 8:09:07 am
STARING AT political marginalisation, the IPFT, a constituent of the BJP-led government in Tripura, has reached out to the Pradyot Kishore Debbarman-led TIPRA Motha alliance, seeking to revive the demand for a separate state for “protecting indigenous rights”.
The move comes ahead of TIPRA Motha’s scheduled three-day demonstration, towards the end of this month, involving over 1,000 supporters and workers at Jantar Mantar over the demand for a ‘Greater Tipraland’. The two parties had joined hands ahead of the tribal areas autonomous district council (TTADC) polls in April this year, but the IPFT eventually went solo, and drew a blank, while TIPRA Motha bagged 18 out of the 28 seats, and the BJP nine.
Since then, the TIPRA Motha has been rapidly expanding its base, with scores of supporters and leaders of the IPFT, including one of its MLAs, joining it. Nearly two-third of the state’s territory comes under the TTADC, home to the majority of the state’s indigenous communities that make up around 30 per cent of its total population.
On Saturday, the IPFT and TIPRA Motha (Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance) held talks on a proposed joint movement committee for a “full-fledged statehood demand (Tipraland) and NRC to safeguard the native indigenous people of Tripura”.
The meeting was attended by Debbarman and IPFT general secretary Mevar Kumar Jamatia, who is a minister in the BJP-led government. Debbarman said he is treading cautiously on the IPFT’s proposal due to its “past record”.
Debbarman told The Indian Express on Sunday that he has “made it clear to the IPFT” that a joint movement on the demand cannot be compromised.
Old demand, fresh push
AHEAD of the state assembly elections in 2023, the vexed issue of separate statehood is once again gaining centrestage in Tripura. While the demand is not new, the Pradyot Debbarman-led TIPRA Motha's rapid rise has triggered a churn in state politics, especially among parties and forums representing indigenous communities.
“They (IPFT) will have to give us in writing that they will not compromise on the demand for a separate state, a constitutional solution. They should not be in any alliance where the other partner does not support such a demand,” Debbarman said. “The IPFT will have to clarify where it stands on these terms and conditions set by us. The movement cannot be halted merely on the assurance of a few seats from parties like the BJP or vague promises of financial packages for development of indigenous communities.”
He said one train has been booked to bring over 1,000 supporters and workers of TIPRA Motha to Delhi for the protests, including cultural events. “The protests…are likely to begin on October 28,” Debbarman said.
The two sides are also trying to work out a consensus on submitting a joint memorandum to Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
IPFT general secretary Jamatia told reporters, “The terms and references of the joint movement committee will be drawn up over the next two-three days. We will also submit a memorandum regarding our demand of statehood to the Centre this month.”
In the 2018 state polls, the IPFT, which was then spearheading the demand for a separate state, had won eight seats, and the BJP 36.
—Inputs from Debraj Deb
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