The BJP in Tripura on Wednesday held the first round of formal discussions with the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), with senior party leader Himanta Biswa Sarma saying a joint statement would be issued after one more round of talks on Thursday.
“We held the first round of discussions with the IPFT today (Wednesday). The second round of talks will be held in Guwahati on Thursday, after which we will issue a joint statement soon. That will be followed by a decision on sharing seats,” Sarma said in Agartala.
Sarma, who is also appointed BJP’s in-charge for Tripura assembly elections, said doors were open for other anti-Left Front forces in order to oust the CPI(M)-led government of Manika Sarkar in the state. “We want to consolidate the anti-Left Front votes. Today’s meeting with IPFT was one step in this direction. Others are also talking to us,” he said.
Sarma however dismissed reports that the BJP had accepted the separate Twipraland demand of the IPFT. “We have committed to address the socio-economic, cultural and linguistic problems faced by the tribal population of Tripura. The word ‘political’ is not there anywhere,” he said.
The BJP leader on Wednesday also claimed that Congress president Rajiv Gandhi had instructed the state Congress leadership to contest only in 15 of the state’s 60 seats, and support the Left Front in the remainder seats. “A senior Congress leader of Tripura has told me about this instruction of Rahul Gandhi. Senior Congress leaders here are offended with this (instruction) which will relegate the Congress as B team of the CPI(M),” he said.
Appealing all Congress leaders and members in Tripura to join the BJP, Sarma said the Congress party should not take away two or three per cent. “While consolidating all anti-Left Front votes, we want every other person to join our side. I am expecting more Congress to join the BJP in the next few days,” Sarma said.
With announcement of the election notification expected in the next two-three days, Sarma also tried to reach out to the 1.5 lakh state government employees as also to over 10,000 school teachers who had lost their jobs because of alleged fault of the Left Front government. While he alleged that the CPI(M) was collecting “donations” from 1.5 lakh government employees, Sarma also promised that the BJP, once voted to power, would amend laws to provide jobs to the 10,000 teachers who lost their jobs.
“I have been told that the CPI(M) is collecting forcible donation from the 1.5 lakh state government employees for its election fund. This is not done. Has the CPI(M) obtained permission from the Election Commission to collect such funds? If the employees are donating voluntarily as well-wishers of the CPI(M), then can they be deployed for election duty? We are taking this issue to the Election Commission,” Sarma said.
He also threatened to lodge an FIR against CPI(M) state secretary Bijan Dhar for allegedly indulging in extortion. “The CPI(M) should this extortion of 1.5 lakh state government employees. Otherwise we are going to lodge an FIR against CPI(M) state secretary Bijan Dhar under Section 384 of the IPC for extortion,” Sarma said.