Rifts wide open between BJP and IPFT in Tripura, tribal leaders want to end alliance

We had reported earlier that rifts within the BJP-IPFT alliance had been developing for sometime over various issues. Things reached a climax when there were violent clashes between the workers of the two parties over the submission of nomination papers for the panchayat elections.

And now, it has surfaced that leaders of the tribal wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party want to sever ties with the Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT). Janajati Morcha (ST frontal organisation) president Sanjoy Debbarma accused the IPFT of spreading chaos across the state. He said, “They are spreading chaos. Development works of the state government are worst hit due to this. Common people are fed up with their activities.”

The demand has been placed before the president of the state unit of the BJP and Chief Minister Biplab Deb. “We have urged the CM to remove IPFT from the alliance. He told us that the coalition was agreed upon by BJP’s central leadership and assured us that the problem will be discussed with them,” he said.

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Rampada Jamatia, state vice-president of the BJP and Janajati Morcha leader, has claimed that his house was attacked by IPFT workers. He also mentioned that many other leaders were attacked including Golaghati MLA, Birchandra Debbarma. “MLA Birchandra Debbarma lodged an FIR with the police. IPFT supporters have held attacks on his family to force him to withdraw the FIR. They are also involved in criminal offences in different parts of the state. We have demanded that legal action be taken against them and the alliance with IPFT be severed immediately,” he said.

Meanwhile, IPFT spokesperson and assistant general secretary, Mangal Debbarma accused the BJP of starting clashes and then blaming IPFT for it. According to him, certain BJP leaders were involved in a shrewd conspiracy to disrupt the alliance as they could then occupy the cabinet seats that would fall vacant as a consequence. “If we leave the alliance, two posts in the cabinet will be vacant and indigenous leaders in BJP can grab those seats. They are plotting to disturb the alliance for this reason,” Mangal said.

Meanwhile, Mangal reignited the commitment of his party towards ‘Tipraland’, a proposed separate state for tribals of Tripura. “We want Tipraland and shall continue the struggle for that. We don’t care how many seats we get in the government. If BJP thinks they can run the government without us, then so be it. They have the single majority. But the indigenous people are with us,” Mangal said. Earlier, the IPFT along with a few other organisations had announced their decision to launch a statewide movement for a separate Tipraland soon.

A rally demanding Tipraland, file photo

Amidst such hostility, national general secretary of the BJP, Ram Madhav and organisational general secretary, Ajay Jamwal, are set to arrive in Tripura on the 16th of September to check the party’s preparation for the Lok Sabha Elections and end hostilities between the two allies. “A meeting is also scheduled with IPFT leaders to put an end to the ongoing hostility between BJP and IPFT, coalition government’s two partners”, said party state general secretary Rajib Bhattacharjee on Thursday.

The BJP already has a single party majority in the state assembly after winning 36 out of the 60 assembly seats in the previous state elections. Thus, they have the luxury of severing ties with the IPFT should they so desire. However, it is likely that their popularity among the indigenous people of Tripura will be affected should the alliance collapse.

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