Hours after Tripura ruling alliance partner Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) vice president Ananta Debbarma quit the tribal party, IPFT’s entire youth brigade followed suit and joined Congress, accusing IPFT leaders of fulfilling self-interests at the cost of tribal welfare.
Speaking to reporters at Raj Andar, annexe of the royal Ujjayanta Palace here, Youth IPFT general secretary and Tripura Industries Development Corporation (TIDC) chairperson Shuklacharan Noatia said there is no democracy in IPFT and three leaders are calling all the shots at the cost of ‘Tipraland’ demand. The tribal leader joined the Congress with nine other youth leaders and said more are expected to follow the suit.
“I have quit IPFT since the party has declined to speak up against Citizenship Amendment Bill. If passed, the Bill will damage tribal interests across the country. Congress is directly opposing the legislation. So, we have joined the party,” Shuklacharan said.
Shukla was earlier named IPFT candidate for West Tripura Lok Sabha seat. But his candidature was later rejected over issues of Office of Profit. Shuklacharan alleged that his nomination was dropped due to a conspiracy hatched with BJP.
Tripura Congress president and royal scion Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debburman welcomed the tribal youth leaders and said the youth IPFT leaders joined his party over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill.
Earlier in January this year, the Congress and all tribal regional parties except IPFT came out in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill.
In an oblique reference to IPFT supremo N C Debbarma and General Secretary Mevar Kumar Jamatia, Pradyot said two leaders of the tribal party forced the tribal youths to stay put on the Citizenship Amendment Bill for their personal interests.
Though the BJP and IPFT are partners in Tripura’s ruling alliance, the parties are contesting against each other in the two Lok Sabha seats in Tripura this year.
On the issue, Pradyot accused the BJP of maintaining secret understanding with IPFT over the coming Lok Sabha elections and said the defectors were forced to stay behind in IPFT by BJP leaders.
Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT), which was formed with the demand of ‘Tipraland’, a proposed separate state for tribal, has seen a series of splits since its first inception in the late 1990s. The party split and NSPT was formed.
After a series of splits, the party resurfaced in 2009 under N C Debbarma, who is now revenue minister in the Biplab Deb cabinet. The party also suffered a split before 2018 Tripura assembly election as a group of senior leaders led by Budhu Debbarma left the party and floated a breakaway faction called IPFT – Tipraha.
The indigenous party formed alliance with BJP and together won 44 out of 60 seats in the state legislative assembly election in 2018 and formed a coalition government ending 25 years of Left rule.
Tripura is scheduled to undergo polling for Lok Sabha elections in two phases this year. West Tripura seat would undergo polling on April 11 and East Tripura (ST reserved) would undergo polling on April 18 across 3324 polling stations in total.
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