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Setback for BJP, new outfit captures key tribal body in Tripura

Agartala,  In a major and far-reaching political development in BJP ruled Tripura, a newly-formed tribal based party, TIPRA Motha, registered a landslide victory on Saturday to capture power in the politically important Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC), defeating the saffron party candidates.

Of the total 28 seats in TTAADC, the TIPRA Motha won 18 seats, the BJP secured nine seats while one seat went to an Independent candidate.

The outcome of the elections to the TTAADC is a major setback for the BJP-IPFT (Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura) alliance, which wrested power in Tripura in 2018 after defeating the CPI-M-led Left parties that ruled the state for 25 years.

However, as a consolation, the BJP for the first time won nine seats in the TTAADC though its junior ally IPFT, despite being a major tribal-based party, drew a blank.

According to the results declared by the State Election Commission, which conducted the April 6 elections to the 28-member TTAADC, of the 28 winners, two are women – Dolly Reang (TIPRA Motha) and Swapna Rani Das (BJP).

The counting of votes took place on Saturday in 16 sub-divisional headquarters across Tripura.

Amalgamating various local tribal-based parties and leaders and members of other parties, the TIPRA Motha headed by Tripura’s royal scion Pradyot Bikram Manikya Deb Barman was formed just a few months ago. It fielded candidates in all the 28 seats while the BJP-IPFT alliance also contested all the seats.

Deb Barman, who was earlier the state president of the Congress but subsequently quit the party in 2019 over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act issue, won from the Takarjala-Jampuijala seat in western Tripura.

Deb Barman, 43, son of former Congress minister Bibhu Kumari Devi and ex-Congress Lok Sabha member Kirit Bikram Kishore Deb Barman, is likely to be the chief executive member of the TTAADC.

Tripura’s oldest tribal-based party Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT), a former ally of the Congress, is also a partner of the TIPRA Motha, and its two candidates, including general secretary Jagadhish Debbarma, secured victory in the TTAADC polls.

The CPI-M led Left Front, the Congress and the other parties had also fielded candidates in the 28 seats of TTAADC, which has a jurisdiction of over two-thirds of Tripura’s 10,491 sq km area and is home to over 12,16,000 people, of which 90 per cent are tribals.

Over 85 per cent of the 8,65,041 voters had cast their votes on Tuesday in the election to the TTAADC, which was constituted under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution in June 1985 for the socio-economic development of the tribals, which constitute one-third of Tripura’s four million population.

The five-year tenure of TTAADC, considered as a mini-state Assembly in terms of political significance, expired on May 17 last year and the BJP-led state government promulgated the Governor’s rule by appointing a retired IAS officer as administrator the next day for a period of six months and then extended the term for another six months on November 17.

After months of political tussles, the BJP and the IPFT had on April 6 decided to jointly fight the elections, weeks before the TTAADC polls.

The opposition CPI-M, which was governing the TTAADC until May 17 last year, has also suffered a setback in the elections as it has a strong base among the tribals evr since the erstwhile princely state had merged with the Indian union in October 1949.

The IPFT has been agitating since 2009 for the creation of a separate state by upgrading the TTAADC while TIPRA Motha had recently raised the demand for a ‘greater Tipra land’ (greater areas for the indigenous tribals).

But both the demands were, however, strongly opposed by all the political major parties, including the BJP, the CPI-M and the Congress.

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