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Ahead of Assembly Polls, Tripura parties step up to empower Tribals

Besides CPI-M, all other opposition political parties have to forge an electoral alliance with either INPT or IPFT to get the tribal reserved seats in the Tripura assembly

Agartala, Sept 14, 2016: Seventeen months ahead of crucial assembly polls in Left-ruled Tripura, political parties, especially tribal-based parties, have stepped up their actions to push their demands including for a separate state.

Two tribal-based political parties- Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT) and Indigenous People’s Front ofTripura (IPFT)- would organise “Delhi Abhiyan” (march to Delhi) to press their demands to the central government.

“A five-member team of IPFT would leave here for New Delhi on Thursday to meet union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Tribal Affairs minister Jual Oram and others to pursue our long pending demands,” IPFT President Narendra Chandra Debbarma said on Wednesday.

He said: “We would apprise the union Home Minister about the August 23 incident in Agartala. The indigenous tribal people are deprived in Tripura. They need more empowerment.”

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IPFT’s acting general secretary Maybe Kumar Jamatia would lead the team for the “Delhi Abhiyan” and submit a memorandum containing their demands to the union ministers.

In the ethnic trouble, at least 24 people, including five policemen, were injured and 17 vehicles badly damaged on August 23 in Agartala after activists of IPFT took out a rally demanding a separate state.

Both the INPT and IPFT have been demanding more power to Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC), a constitutional elected body, introduction of inner-line permit in Tripura to protect the tribals, recognition of tribal language – Kokborok – in the 8th Schedule of the Constitutions, reservation of 50 per cent seats for the tribals in the 60-member Tripura assembly.

The IPFT has been agitating for the creation of a separate state, carved out by upgrading the TTAADC area. The TTAADC was formed in 1987 under Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to protect and safeguard the political, economic and cultural interests of the tribals.

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The politically important council constitute two-third of Tripura’s 10,491 sq.km area.

The INPT, which opposes the separate state demand, would organise a six-hours sit-in-demonstration in Delhi and meet the central ministers in the first week of December.

“We would highlight our demands during our “New Delhi Abhiyan”. We have taken this decision at our central working committee meeting held here on Tuesday,” INPT spokesman Srota Ranjan Khisa said on Wednesday.

He said that the INPT would organise a mass campaign during the next two months in support of its demands across the state. The INPT would hold a meeting with its four frontal organisation leaders on September 22 to make successful the upcoming party programme.

In Tripura politics, tribals and tribes based political parties play a vital role as 20 seats in the 60-member Tripura assembly are reserved for the tribals, who constitute a third of Tripura’s four million populations.

Political analyst Tapas Dey said that though almost all political parties, including the ruling CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist), CPI (Communist Party of India), opposition Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party and Trinamool Congress strongly opposed the IPFT’s separate state demand, the tribal party has gained base among the tribals spearheading the demand.

“Except the CPI-M, all other opposition political parties have to forge an electoral alliance with either INPT or IPFT to get the tribal reserved seats in the Tripura assembly. That’s why the political parties have maintained a close rapport with them and other tribal parties,” Dey told IANS. (IANS)

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