Agartala, Apr 03 : The tribal based Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) is going through serious crisis ahead of general elections even as the party has fielded its candidates against all the three major parties – BJP, Congress and CPI (M). IPFT, which is an ally of BJP in the state government, is struggling to hold its ground after thousands of its supporters in the hills joined tribal based opposition Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT). The erosion occurred immediately after IPFT leadership, especially two ministers in the state cabinet, maintained silence over BJP's decision against Tipraland.
The BJP has been opposing IPFT's demand for separate state even before forging the alliance. As per BJP's pre-alliance promise, MHA had constituted a high power committee headed by it’s Special Secretary (Internal Security) Rina Mitra and senior officials of different ministries and the state government. But there was no option of discussion on core issue of Tipraland. Consequently, the tribal supporters, who had ensured IPFT'S win on eight seats in the last year’s assembly elections, felt cheated.
The committee was formed to recommend the action plan and strategies to address the developmental problems of socio-economic, cultural and linguistic issues. The committee had detailed discussion with different stakeholders of the state and also accepted a large number of memorandums from different political parties, intellectuals and social organisations about socio-economic, cultural and linguistic issues of tribal people.
In the last six months, BJP also directed concerted efforts to strengthen its tribal base under its indigenous leaders headed by Deputy Chief Minister Jishnu Dev Varma. According to BJP, the efforts yielded good results. More than 26000 active supporters of IPFT have joined BJP till now. While all this was happening, IPFT ministers did not actively stand in support of it’s cadres, when they raised onslaught on BJP for capturing the post of chairman in various village committees under ADC.
The IPFT suffered jolt for the second time when Congress nominated royal scion Pradyot Kishore Debbarman as president of Tripura Pradesh Congress Committee last month. The Congress claimed more than a lakh of IPFT workers and voters shifted to Congress and INPT. And, at present, except eight MLAs and around 20 top leaders of IPFT, all other have shifted either to BJP or Congress or INPT.
Struggling with its dwindling support base, IPFT president and Revenue Minister N C Debbarma and the party General Secretary and Tribal Welfare Minister of Biplab Deb cabinet have now decided to get their voters back with the promise of separate Tipraland. After they failed to manage East Tripura tribal reserved seat from BJP, IPFT had to put candidates in both the seats. However, its slogan for Tipraland seems to go against it, as voters have lost faith and drifted to other camps.
The IPFT lost ground further after it’s strong opponent INPT extended support to Congress in Lok Sabha election. The new alliance has forced the party leaders in a crippling tri-corner attack by BJP, INPT and Congress. It goes without saying that the IPFT leaders are in deep trouble to save their existence and secure their ministerial berths. BJP has already indicated that IPFT has not complied with it’s alliance principle by fielding separate candidates in both the seats.
It is two-way loss for IPFT now. Already, it has been identified as opposition in the government and if IPFT candidates are unable to secure their deposits, the party will be exposed badly. The BJP sources have said that the party would consider, if IPFT MLAs want to join BJP as a skin saver option for their political carrier.
The Congress state vice-president Taps Dey today said as many as 400 supporters and activists of IPFT led by its senior vice-chairperson Kritimohan Tripura joined Congress here. "We are confused with the demand of Tipraland and our leaders had cheated us. Now we understand that this demand is not practical and Congress is the only option left for us, as it has assured us of development of the indigenous people," Kritimohan Tripura told reporters after joining Congress. (UNI )