IPFT starts discussion to finalise alliance with BJP in Tripura
The Indigenous Peoples’ Front of Tripura (IPFT) is mulling the possibility of forming an alliance with the BJP, keeping aside their demand of separate Twipraland for tribals in the upcoming Assembly elections.
The executive committee of IPFT, comprising of the leaders of 19 divisional committee leaders and 10 different wings leaders, attended the meeting that began on January 9. The BJP though did not agree to the demand of Twipraland, they persuaded both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh for addressing the core issues of the tribals of Tripura, IPFT president NC Debbarma said.
He stated that the IPFT has reviewed their organisational strength and found that it can alone win at least 12 seats out of the 20 tribal reserved constituencies in the 60-member house. The party has already witnessed the rule of the CPM and the Congress in the last four decades and has a clear understanding of their stance on the development of tribals. So, a decision will be taken based on the realities as IPFT alone cannot form the government in the state and has to form an alliance with others, he said.
Debbarma pointed out that IPFT has been fighting for a separate Twipraland which would be carved out of the present geography of the state
“The Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in our meeting in Delhi recently made the commitment that the Centre will constitute a committee to assess the socio-economic and cultural aspects of the tribal communities of the state this week and to suggest a time-bound action plan for addressing those, which according to the BJP leaders are the root of Twipraland demand. We are waiting to see the formation of the committee and its term of references,” Debbarma said.
He pointed out that in the last meeting that took place four months ago with the Home Minister, the same demand was raised to form a modalities committee for looking at the prospect of a separate tribal land. However, it has not happened yet. Now in a different nomenclature, the Central government agreed to form the committee and it was supposed to be notified by January 8 last but has not happened yet.
Debbarma pointed out that IPFT has been fighting for a separate Twipraland which would be carved out of the present geography of the state. He justified the demand that at present two-third areas of Tripura is under tribal autonomous district council (ADC) and there is no problem in any community doing business, working or in the movement of people. So, there is no apprehension of any causality in form of non-tribal if Twipraland is formed.
“Unless separate entity is given there is no chance of the development of tribals in Tripura. The ADC was formed in 1982 under the sixth schedule of the Constitution – even after 35 years, tribal people of the state have not been able to develop because of the successive governments of the CPM and Congress. We want financial and administrative autonomy for the tribals of Tripura, otherwise, there is no chance of meaningful development,” he argued.
On the other hand, the BJP Tripura election in-charge and finance minister of Assam, Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, reiterated his party's stand and said since the beginning, the BJP has rejected Twipraland concept of IPFT outright. There is no chance of any alliance or adjustment with the IPFT unless they agree to the common minimum programme and set aside the separate tribal land issue.
He further argued that the proposed socio-economic and cultural affairs committee to be formed by the Centre would assess the present status of the tribals in Tripura and after a detailed discussion with the stakeholders, the committee would suggest an action plan to address those issues in a time bound manner.
“We tried to convince them why were they demanding Twipraland. The obvious response was the development of tribals and more autonomy. If the development of tribal is achieved under the proposed state council, where is the problem? We made it clear that the core objectives of Twipraland are the development of tribals at par with others and the proposed model is well enough to achieve it. Now, the ball is in IPFT’s court,” Sarma added.