The Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra (INPT), oldest existing tribal regional party of Tripura, on Monday severed alliance talks with the Congress and announced candidates in both Lok Sabha seats of Tripura.
Addressing a press conference at INPT headquarters at Krishnanagar here, INPT supremo and rebel turned politician Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl said they were in alliance talks with the Congress for quite some time but the grand old party offered some unacceptable conditions, due to which they would contest separately.
“We visited New Delhi and met Congress president Rahul Gandhi. A memorandum of understanding for a joint fight against BJP was also signed between us. But Tripura Pradesh Congress president gave us a condition that I have to resign as party president and contest as an independent candidate. This is unacceptable for us. So, we have decided to contest separately in both seats,” Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl told reporters.
He also said his party is in alliance talks with Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (Tipraha), a breakaway faction of Tripura’s ruling ally IPFT, National Conference of Tripura (NCT) and few other regional political parties.
“We are hopeful that we will get their support. Our talks shall continue for the next 1-2 days,” Hrangkhawl said.
As per the party’s decision, Hrangkhawl would contest from East Tripura Parliamentary constituency while general secretary Jagadish Debbarma would contest from West Tripura constituency.
Hrangkhawl further said that if voted to power, INPT would raise voice in the Parliament for granting more power, direct funding to Tripura ADC and inclusion of Kokborok, lingua franca of majority tribal communities in Tripura, in the 8th Schedule of Indian Constitution.
Reacting to INPT’s allegations, Tripura Congress president Pradyot Kishore said his party is not agreed to conceding East Tripura (ST reserved) seat to INPT. “We offered them support if they contested independently. I don’t think our poll prospects will be affected if they contest separately,” Pradyot said.
Earlier this month, IPFT announced revenue minister N C Debbarma as the candidate for East Tripura constituency and youth leader Shuklacharan Noatia for West Tripura constituency. Opposition CPI (M) announced sitting MP Jitendra Chaudhury and MP Shankar Prasad Dutta as candidates in the two seats.
However, BJP and Congress are yet to announce candidates in both Lok Sabha seats of the state.
Tripura has two Lok Sabha seats with 25,98,290 voters scheduled to exercise their franchise on April 11 and April 18 at West Tripura and East Tripura Lok Sabha constituencies respectively. Parliament elections would be held in the state in two phases this year.
In 1978, insurgent outfit Tripura National Volunteers (TNV) was formed as a youth wing of Tripura Upajati Juba Samiti (TUJS), the only anti-left indigenous party at the time, which went on to form state government in alliance with Congress in 1988. TNV went underground demanding self-determination of indigenous people and a sovereign Tripura under Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl leading to severe bloodbath which ended with the TNV Accord signed by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1988.
Hrangkhawl joined politics with Tripura Upajati Juba Samiti and moved on to INPT in 2002. He was elected once as MLA from Ambassa assembly constituency in Dhalai district.