File image of TIPRA chairman Pradyot Kishore Manikya Deb Barman

Agartala: Ahead of the district council elections, Pradyot Deb Barman’s TIPRA—Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance—and BJP ally Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) organised a joint show of strength in Khumulwng, the headquarters of Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC).

Thousands of supporters from across the state joined a march before assembling in a public gathering.

Speaking at the public rally, Deb Barman said that the Thancha (unity) between the indigenous leaders would help them speak together and hold talks with the central leadership.

“We have seen in the last 70 years the suppression of the voice of indigenous people and attempts to divide and rule,” Deb Barman said.

He also said speaking with state leadership was of no use, since the central government made all decisions. 

“We have seen in the last 70 years the suppression of the voice of indigenous people and attempts to divide and rule,” Deb Barman said

“Now, we will speak with leaders in New Delhi and place our demands. We will not compromise anything lesser than ‘Greater Tipraland’,” Deb Barman said.

In an oblique reference to East Tripura MP Rebati Tripura, Deb Barman said that the leader who speaks about the community has voted for Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in the parliament betraying the people of the state.

The IPFT general secretary and tribal welfare minister Mevar Kumar Jamatia said that the fight for the development of the son of the soil would continue unless the centre accepts their demand.

“We have been suppressed and used for vote bank politics, but no one heard our voices. The time has changed, and as we speak in one voice, the leaders will have to listen to our demands,” Jamatia said.

He also thanked the TIPRA chairman for his tireless efforts in bringing the indigenous leaders on a single platform.

Speaking with reporters, Deb Barman said, “We are not against any community. We are asking for something which we have been deprived of. We do not trust the leadership within the state, and we want New Delhi to address it.”

“We merged with India under certain Constitutional guarantees, and I think our rights were taken. Just because we have come together does not mean we are against anyone. We are uniting to send a single voice to Delhi, which will speak about our real problem which we are feeling,” Deb Barman added. 

He said that Delhi should look at it not from a political point of view but a point of view.

“Why do people and political parties have agreed to come together? This means there is a genuine frustration among the indigenous people, and we want Delhi to listen to our voice,” Deb Barman said.

The IPFT president and revenue minister Narendra Chandra Debbbarma said they would take a call on the coalition with BJP after the district council polls.

“We are holding talks with the senior leadership of BJP and political dialogue will continue with the alliance partner,” the IPFT chief added.

The TTAADC was constituted through a vote by secret ballot on January 15, 1982, and the elected members were sworn in on January 18, 1982. Subsequently, the Indian Constitution was amended by a Bill. It was unanimously passed on the floor of the Indian Parliament on August 23, 1984, for the introduction of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution in India.

The TTAADC covers 7,132.56 sq km, which is around 70 per cent of the geographical area of the state. It is also home to one-third of the state’s population.

The TTAADC consists of a 30 member council, of which 28 are elected, and the Governor nominates two members.

The High Court of Tripura on January 12 ordered the state government to conduct elections for the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) by May 17.

The TTAADC polls, earlier scheduled for May 2020, were deferred by the state election commission citing COVID-19 restrictions, following which administration was handed over to the Tripura governor for six months and later extended another six months on November 17. 

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