Tribal party TIPRA emerges as the big challenger to Tripura politics

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By Sujit Chakraborty

Agartala, Sep 24 (IANS): Less than six months away from elections for the 60-member Assembly, the Tipraha Indigenous Regional Progressive Alliance (TIPRA), a tribal party, is rapidly emerging as a main force in areas dominated by indigenous peoples to give the BJP the power and opposition parties a difficult challenge.

As tribes make up more than a third of Tripura’s four million people and with 20 tribal seats reserved (in the 60-member Assembly), indigenous peoples have always played a very important role in the electoral politics of the formerly Tripura under princely rule, which before merging into the Indian Union on October 15, 1949 had been ruled by 184 tribal kings.

In the 20 seats reserved for the tribes of Tripura and in the 10 seats reserved for scheduled castes, the left-wing parties led by the CPI-M were traditionally the strongholds.

In the 2018 assembly elections and polls at the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) in April last year, the left-wing party all but lost space to TIPRA, known locally as TIPRA Motha.

To regain lost ground among the tribals, the CPI-M appointed Jitendra Chowdhury, a senior tribal leader and former minister, as secretary of state a year ago.

In more than seven decades of leftist movement in Tripura, Chowdhury, 64, was the second tribal leader to become CPI-M Secretary of State in Tripura after former late Chief Minister Dasaratha Deb, who along with another former Chief Minister Nripen Chakraborty, were the father figures of the left-wing movement in Tripura.

When TIPRA, led by former royal descendant of Tripura, Pradyot Bikram Manikya Deb Barman, wrote the history of the North Eastern State and snatched the 30 members of TTAADC in the elections of April 6, 2021, it is become the main political force in the tribal areas, leaving the left behind. , Congress and BJP in Tripura.

Underscoring their claim to “Greater Tipraland” (uplifting tribal people in and outside Tripura), TIPRA defeated the Left Front led by the CPI-M, BJP and Congress in the TTAADC elections, which, in terms of political importance, is considered a mini Legislative Assembly after the Legislative Assembly of Tripura.

Constituted in 1985 under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, the TTAADC has jurisdiction over two-thirds of the 10,491 km² of Tripura. and is home to over 12,16,000 people, approximately 84% of whom are tribal, making the self-governing constitutional body the second largest legislature after the Tripura assembly.

Following the merger of the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT), one of the oldest tribal parties in the state, with TIPRA last year, the latter has received new political impetus to confront other local and national parties .

Deb Barman, in an interview with IANS, said her TIPRA party would not forge any pre-election alliances with any political party and would field at least 40 candidates in the upcoming Assembly polls.

Apart from the emergence of TIPRA, which changed the political spectrum of the North Eastern State, the Trinamool Congress entered Tripura politics last year for the second phase.

Although Trinamool Supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee have formed a full-fledged State Committee headed by State Chairman Subal Bhowmik who was previously in both Congress and BJP.

On August 24, the Trinamool leadership removed Bhowmik from the post of chairman, causing confusion among party men and the mindset of ordinary people.

Rajya Sabha member of Trinamool, Sushmita Dev, who along with the party’s state official and former West Bengal minister Rajib Banerjee as party leader, told IANS they would form committees district and party bloc and then would engage in political activities after the Durga puja festival. next month.

“The Trinamool is the only alternative to defeat the BJP and it was already clear to the people that the Congress and the leftist parties have no political capacity to defeat the BJP,” said Dev, who is the father and former minister. of the Union, the late Santosh Mohan Dev. was twice elected to the Lok Sabha of Tripura on a Congress ticket.

In an apparent attempt to tame anti-incumbency and stem any discontent within its organization in Tripura, the BJP in May adopted its now successfully tested strategy of entering the polls with a fresh face. ‘State Assembly.

On May 14, Biplab Kumar Deb left the post of Prime Minister following the directives of the central leaders. Dental surgeon-turned-politician Manik Saha became prime minister the next day.

The BJP, however, has yet to reveal why Deb was abruptly removed from office.

With the strategy of changing the chief minister months before the elections working in his favor in Uttarakhand, the central BJP leaders opted for a similar change in Tripura, where elections are due to be held in February next year. .

The BJP has changed five chief ministers since 2019, including Gujarat and Karnataka.

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