Agartala, Nov 12 (IANS) The ruling BJP’s ally, the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) will hold a demonstration in Delhi early next month and meet the Prime Minister, Home Minister and other central ministers to press it’s demand for a separate state for the tribals, a top party leader said on Tuesday.
“To push our separate state demand, over 500 members and leaders of IPFT would leave here on November 28 to hold a demonstration in Delhi on December 1 or 2,” IPFT’s General Secretary and party spokesman Mangal Debbarma told IANS.
He said that the IPFT leaders, led by party President and state Revenue Minister Narendra Chandra Debbarma and General Secretary and Forest and Tribal Welfare Minister Mevar Kumar Jamatia would meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, DoNER (Development of North Eastern Region) Minister Jitendra Singh and Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda in connection with their demands.
The IPFT has been agitating since 2009 for the creation of a separate state for the indigenous tribals 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.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, the opposition CPI-M, Congress and Tripura’s oldest tribal based party Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura have strongly opposing the IPFT’s separate state demand.
The IPFT leaders in September met various central ministers and top BJP leaders in Delhi to push their demands. They also earlier held demonstrations in the national capital to highlight their demands.
The BJP and the IPFT are now in hectic preparations to wrest control of the TTAADC, now governed by the CPI-M.
The 30-member (28 elected and two nominated by the state government) TTAADC, which will go to the polls in April-May next year, has been playing a significant role in Tripura politics.
“We have informed the BJP’s central and state leadership that we would either contest the TTAADC polls alone or field candidates on all 28 seats,” IPFT leader Mevar Kumar Jamatia told IANS.
He said, “As the IPFT has substantial base among the 1.2 million tribal population (out of the state’s total four million population) in Tripura, our party’s claim to control the TTAADC is totally justified.”
The IPFT, which has two ministers and eight legislators in Tripura, is also a constituent of the BJP-led Northeast Democratic Alliance (NEDA).
Jamatia said that they have conveyed their decision to NEDA convener Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma also.
The BJP and the IPFT had contested against each other in the Lok Sabha polls and elections to the three-tier Gram Panchayats and municipal bodies earlier this year.
BJP spokesman Nabendu Bhattacharjee said that though his party is yet to finalise the TTAADC election strategy, it is likely to fight on most seats.
“The IPFT being an independent party has its own ideology. They are free to contest the TTAADC polls without any alliance with the BJP. However, they should also maintain the “Jot Dharma” (coalition principle), Bhattacharjee told IANS.
The TTAADC was formed in 1985 under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to protect and safeguard the political, economic and cultural interests of the tribals, who make up one third of the state’s four million population.
Since 1985, the TTAADC was mostly governed by the CPI-M, which has an extensive base both among the tribals and non-tribals.