File photo of IPFT and TIPRA leaders Credit: EastMojo Image

Agartala, Mar 27 (PTI) The Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), an ally of the ruling BJP in the North-eastern state, on Sunday said it would discuss the possibility of merging or allying with the Tripura Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance (TIPRA Motha) before the assembly elections due early next year.

The TIPRA Motha, headed by royal scion Pradyot Kishore Debbarma, seeks a separate state for the indigenous people of Tripura.

Our conference to form a new executive committee will be held on April 2 and 3. There we would discuss whether the IPFT should merge or forge an alliance with TIPRA Motha as both parties demand a separate state, IPFT spokesperson and assistant general secretary Mangal Debbarma told PTI.

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TIPRA Motha chief Pradyot Kishore Debbarma has several times called upon all tribal-based parties of the state to unite to fulfil the Greater Tipraland demand.

The TIPRA Motha, formed early last year, swept the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) elections held in April 2021, winning 18 of the 28 seats over the ‘Greater Tipraland’ demand in a direct contest with the ruling BJP-IPFT alliance.

The TTAADC comprises two-thirds of Tripura’s territory and is home to the tribals who constitute a third of the state’s estimated 40 lakh population.

The IPFT spokesperson said when the “popular” royal scion has given a call for unity of tribal parties, “we want to give him a chance for fulfilling his demand for a separate state for indigenous people of the state .

In the 60-member Tripura Assembly, the demand for a separate state may influence results in 20 seats where tribal people hold considerable sway.

‘Greater Tipraland’ is an extension of the IPFT’s demand for ‘Tipraland’, a separate state for tribals by carving out the TTAADC area.

The proposed ‘Greater Tipraland’ state would include tribal majority areas of Tripura, Assam, Mizoram, and even Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh.

“It is a fact that a majority of our young generation support the separate statehood demand because of unequal development in hills and plains. Even after 74 years of Independence, the disparity continues to exist. The younger generation wants social and economic development, Tripura Tribal Welfare Minister and IPFT general secretary Mevar Kumar Jamatiya said in the Assembly on March 22.

Most of the state’s tribal population live in the hills while plain areas are inhabited by non-tribals.

The party wants the Centre to discuss its demand but has not received any response so far. All major political parties in the state including the ruling BJP, opposition CPI(M) and the Congress have rejected the demand calling it “separatist and divisive”.

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