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Tripura's TIPRA to contest Feb 16 polls alone, makes all parties anxious


Agartala, Jan 27
With the BJP-led Central government rejecting its separate "Greater Tipraland" state demand, the influential Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance (TIPRA) announced to contest the February 16 Tripura Assembly elections alone, leading to a new political dimension ahead of the polls.

While all the parties in Tripura - the BJP, the CPI-M, the Congress, and the Trinamool Congress -- had been trying to forge alliance with the TIPRA to get majority of the 20 vital tribal reserved seats, the latter held several meetings with BJP's junior ally Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT) for a seat-sharing deal.

The TIPRA, since 2021, has been demanding elevation of the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) as a separate state for the tribals. All major parties, however, are opposing the demand.

At the instance of the state and Central BJP leaders, the Union Home Ministry had called the TIPRA leaders to Delhi on Wednesday to discuss the demand and Union Home Minister Amit Shah was to meet the tribal leaders led by TIPRA chief Pradyot Bikram Manikya Deb Barman.

However, these did not bear fruit.

"Union Home Minister Amit Shah rejected the demand for Greater Tipraland. The Home Ministry officials handed over a four-page draft of promises aiming to develop the tribal areas and socio-economic development of the tribals. We did not accept the MHA proposals mentioned in the draft promises," a TIPRA leader said.

After returning to Agartala from Delhi, Deb Barman told the media that his party would field candidates in 40 to 45 seats out of the total of 60 seats of Tripura assembly.

"We have repeatedly said that until we don't get written assurance from the government of India on the constitutional solution to our demand, we will not go in for any alliance, leave alone seat-sharing. Please don't jump the gun and relax - we know how to negotiate for our people to the maximum," Deb Barman said.

Posting video messages in various social media accounts, he also tweeted: "No alliance - my heart does not agree and so I have made my decision that I cannot accept New Delhi's offer ! Jitega toh jitega harega toh harega but one last fight to karke rahega ! I can't betray our cause and our people !"

Another TIPRA leader earlier said that they are unhappy with the way the Home Ministry has treated their leaders in Delhi.

The MHA proposals contain more of the promises typically made during peace talks with militant groups, he said.

The IPFT, since 2009, has been demanding to make the areas under TTAADC a full-fledged state while the TIPRA, since 2021, has been demanding elevation of the TTAADC areas by granting 'Greater Tipraland State' under Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution.