Updated: February 5, 2021 7:28:02 pm
Tripura scion and former state Congress chief Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarma on Friday said that his outfit – the Tripura Indigenous People’s Regional Alliance (TIPRA) – would contest the tribal council polls this year.
Debbarma said he is in touch with all regional tribal outfits in the state, seeking an alliance in the interest of fighting the polls together, and will wait another week before taking a call on the same.
On March 26 last year, the Tripura government issued a notification saying that the polls to the autonomous tribal council were being deferred ‘indefinitely’ on account of Covid-19. The tenure of the previous Council expired on May 17, 2020. The notification attributed to Tribal Welfare Director N. Darlong said the ADC polls were being pushed back, until further notice, after due consideration of public health and the state’s alarming Covid situation at the time.
As part of a decision taken by the state cabinet, the interim charge of the Council was vested in the Governor. Later, its tenure was extended by a further six months.
On January 12, the state government filed an affidavit before the Tripura High Court, saying that it would conduct the ADC polls by May 17 this year.
Speaking to reporters in Agartala on Friday afternoon, Debbarma said that the leadership of his outfit has decided to field candidates in the polls to elect the next autonomous tribal administrative council.
The outfit would soon launch itself as a new party and put forward its demand for a ‘Greater Tipraland’, he said, adding that the demand would not only be confined to the TTADC areas but also extend to ‘Tiprasa’ of Tripuris spread across other states such as Assam and Mizoram.
“We demand that every indigenous area or village which today is outside the TTADC be included under the Greater Tipraland. If all indigenous leaders of the state, including myself, are invited by the central government for a dialogue on the issue, we can put forth our proposal,” he said.
On his dialogue with other tribal parties of Tripura, so far, the scion said he has made an offer to them to either merge with TIPRA or fight the polls jointly.
“We have discussed our proposal with the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), IPFT-Tipraha – a breakaway faction of the ruling tribal party, Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra (INPT), Tipraland State Party (TSP) and Tripura People’s Front (TPF), among others. We shall wait another week for their response,” he said.
Debbarma, who has been vocal in his opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act, added that the demand for ‘Greater Tipraland’ is a direct consequence of the government’s refusal to revise the state’s NRC list.
Further clarifying that his outfit would not accept financial assistance from any national party in exchange for alliance, Debbarma said that ideological concurrence should be central to any sort of a poll tie-up or understanding.
On the recent resurfacing of armed insurgency in Tripura, especially in villages bordering Bangladesh, the TIPRA chief said such activities could either be fuelled by a political motive or the frustration of tribal youth disillusioned with the government.
Offering to mediate talks between the Centre and the insurgent outfits, the scion said he would try to put it across to the armed groups that violence isn’t the right way to have their demands met.
Debbarma resigned as the state Congress president in 2019, citing differences with the party leadership. He said he left the grand old party because of lobbyism and backstabbing.
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