As per reports, violent clashes erupted between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the IPFT, its ally in Tripura over submission of nomination papers for the coming by-polls for panchayat bodies. The BJP and the IPFT are rivals in the bye elections to be held in 3,207 gram panchayat seats, 161 panchayat samiti seats and 18 Zila Parishad seats on September 30th.
“At least 15 members of the BJP and IPFT were injured in the intra-party clashes and subsequent police lathi-charge at Boxanagar late Monday evening. The clashes broke out when IPFT members went to file nomination papers,” a police official said.
Youth IPFT president Shuklacharan Noatia accused the BJP of attacking its workers. He said, “We are in an alliance with BJP in the state government. After mutual consultation, we went to submit nomination papers at Boxanagar. Some BJP leaders stopped us on our way. Later, BJP supporters attacked us with stones, bombs and sticks. Many of us were injured.” State Congress President Birajit Sinha has also accused BJP workers of attacking his party workers.
BJP spokesperson, Mrinal Kanti Deb, however, denied the allegations. “The IPFT is our ally in the State Government. There is no strain in the relationship. We also believe in a friendly, democratic electoral exercise and have not attacked Congress supporters. These are baseless allegations,” Deb said. He also said “local issues” will not impact their alliance with the IPFT in the state in any manner.
A police official has also reportedly said that the residence of a BJP legislator was attacked and his wife and others were assaulted by IPFT members. “On Monday night, IPFT members attacked the residence of BJP legislator Birendra Kishore Debbarma and assaulted his wife and others at Golaghati,” the official stated.
The alliance has been sailing through troubled waters for quite sometime. Supporters of the IPFT had called an indefinite strike in May at Killa block in Gomati district after BJP leader and local MLA Rampada Jamatia was named the Block Advisory Committee (BAC) chief. BJP state general secretary Pratima Bhowmik had said in July that the IPFT was struggling to control its lower rung cadres.
BJP is, of course, no stranger to having conflicts with allies. The Shiv Sena, which is an ally of the BJP at the Center and Maharashtra, has been very vocal about its differences with the BJP and has vowed to contest 2019 general elections alone. Only months ago, TDP had quit the NDA government over the ‘special status’ demand for Andhra Pradesh. In the assembly elections for the 60 member house held in February this year, BJP had won 35 seats, while IPFT had won 8, hence there is no danger to the stability of the state govt this this conflict over panchayat elections.
Ahead of General Elections next year, although Tripura has offers only 2 seats in the Lok Sabha, the rifts with IPTK has certainly presented the BJP with a new hurdle to navigate. But there is no risk to the stability of Biplab Deb govt due to this conflict over panchayat elections, because BJP has 36 MLAs in the 60 member assembly in the state, while IPFT has 8.