The Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) was formed in 1996 after the government banned National Liberation Front of Tripura following a massive crackdown by the police. A year later, it merged with Tripura Upjati Juba Samiti and Tribal National Volunteers – a militant group-turned-political party and renamed themselves as the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra (INPT).
IPFT made its first political breakthrough in 2000 by winning a seat in the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council with support from National Liberal Front of Tripura (NLFT). The party, however, lost successive elections in 2003 and 2008 that resulted in a massive split within the party.
In 2016, the party again came into the political arena in 2016 with a demand for a separate state for tribals, Twiparaland, which was one of the largest historical kingdoms in north-east India. The capital, Agartala, witnessed huge clashes on August 23 that year between tribals and the Bengalis with vehicles torched and at least 30 people getting injured, days before the Simna-Tamakari Assembly bypolls on August 26. Party chief N C Debbarma organised a massive rally in the state on the demand for a separate land for the indigenous people.
The result of the Simna-Tamakari Assembly by-polls again indicates a changing political scenario as CPI(M) just won the seat with a margin of 582 votes. Left candidate Kumud Debbarma secured 9,260 votes while IPFT candidate Mangal Debbarma got 8,678 votes, which gives a sign of a rapidly rising IPFT trying to take control over CPI(M)’s in the tribal areas, replacing INPT.
Meanwhile, the party went on the backfoot last year following the murder of TV journalist Santanu Bhowmik, allegedly, by party workers at a protest for the demand of a separate state of Twiparaland.
In the recent assembly election, the BJP tactically grasped the changing political scenario in the state making an alliance with Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT). After decades of left rule, the state, for the first time, will have a BJP government with the support of IPFT.