Agartala/New Delhi, July 17 (IANS) The Union Government has remained noncommittal about the statehood demand of the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), a junior ally of the ruling BJP, officials and party sources said on Wednesday.
Senior officials of Tripura’s Home Department and leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) separately said that Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other central ministers have remained ambiguous about the statehood demand of the IPFT.
A delegation of the IPFT led by party President and Revenue Minister Narendra Chandra Debbarma and party General Secretary and Tribal Welfare Minister Mevar Kumar Jamatia met Union Home Minister Amit Shah, DoNER (Development of North Eastern Region) and PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) Minister Jitendra Singh and Forest and Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar in New Delhi on Monday and Tuesday and discussed about their various demands including statehood.
The IPFT, a tribal-based local party, has been agitating since 2009 for a separate state to be carved out by upgrading the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC), which has jurisdiction over two-thirds of Tripura’s 10,491 sq-km area, home to over 12,16,000 people.
“BJP never supported the statehood issue of the IPFT. Central leaders of the party are also against the demand. IPFT is a separate party, they can agitate on the issue,” Tripura BJP spokesman Nabendu Bhattacharjee told IANS.
On the other hand, the IPFT leaders after meeting the central ministers are very hopeful about their demand. “We are very positive about the central ministers’ reaction to our demands. Amit Shah and other central ministers assured us to continue discussions on the statehood and other demands,” IPFT spokesman and the party’s Assistant General Secretary Mangal Debbarma told IANS over phone from New Delhi. He said that they have urged the central ministers to give more autonomy and power to the TTAADC. “The Central government had earlier constituted a high-level committee to recommend various measures for the socio-economic and cultural development of the tribals. We have told the central ministers to implement the recommendations of the committee,” Debbarma said.
The IPFT’s other demands include the inclusion of the tribals’ ‘Kokborok’ language in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution and introduction of the Roman script for ‘Kokborok’.
The IPFT, the junior partner of the BJP and which has two ministers in the eight-member Tripura ministry, contested the recent Lok Sabha elections and the ongoing panchayat polls against the BJP. “We are contesting the elections separately to highlight our basic issues especially the statehood demand. The majority tribals are most backward in all respects, they need much more financial, social and administrative support,” the IPFT President told IANS. The IPFT had held agitations in Delhi and Tripura in support of its separate ‘Twipraland’ (full-fledged state for the Tripuris or indigenous tribals) and other demands.