Agartala: TIPRA Motha Chairman Pradyot Kishore Debbarman on Tuesday released an audio message for party cadres and supporters, claiming he was ready to “die for the rights of his people”.

Debbarman made it clear that if the Government of India did not concede to the demands raised by his party, he would resort to fast until death.

“I am grateful to you for showering love upon me. I can go for fast unto death but can’t betray you. The Government of India has to listen to us. I am waiting for another day. If something does not happen, I will start my fast unto death. I love all of you. I am under tremendous pressure, but you people should receive something. I am ready to die for you,” his message in Hindi said.

His statement came on March 27, the deadline for the Central government to announce an interlocutor for talks between his party and the Government of India. Earlier, Debbarman tweeted about the progress in talks and his telephonic conversation with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who had updated him regarding the appointment of an interlocutor.

However, no official development came till March 27. Not paying much heed to the statements about Chief Minister Dr Manik Saha, Debbarman maintained that the Government of India was keen to resolve the issues raised by his party. Ever since poll results were declared, TIPRA Motha legislators have maintained equal distance from the ruling BJP and the opposition. Even during the Speaker’s elections, TIPRA abstained from voting, raising many eyebrows.

Reacting to the rapid political developments regarding the rights of indigenous people, CPIM state secretary Jitendra Choudhury said, “Whenever elections arrive we keep hearing of new terms. Sometimes it is a high-power committee, sometimes a high-power modality committee and now a new term-interlocutor is being coined. To cater to the aspirations of the 21st-century people living in ADC areas, a Bill was tabled in the Lok Sabha five years ago. This 125th constitutional amendment Bill has found its place in cold storage. Why this delay if the government is keen to address the problems of people living in TTAADC areas?”

The CPIM leader raised the issue in the state assembly as well. All senior BJP leaders EastMojo tried to contact have declined to make any official statement on his announcement. Even in the state assembly on Monday, the disparity of development works in tribal areas became a key issue of debate.

According to Leader of the Opposition Animesh Debbarma, Tripura has two forms of development: one in theory and another in reality. “Our MLAs have tried to draw the notice of the treasury bench as to how two versions of the development coexist at the same time. One is the printed form of development which says everything is good, the state is progressing, and people are receiving the benefits of schemes launched by the Centre and the state. On the other hand, there are ground realities which even the people in power can’t deny. As the main opposition party, we are trying to showcase what problems have hampered the development in tribal-dominated areas of the state.”

In the TTAADC session that concluded on Monday, Pradyot Kishore Debbarman, also an MDC, described TTAADC as a toothless tiger. “On pen and paper, we are the custodians of TTAADC, which empowers us to protect the rights of indigenous people living in the sixth-schedule areas. But any legislation we bring has to be approved by the Governor, and in this process, the state government is consulted. Even the BJP members of the Council agree that TTAADC has never been treated fairly by the state government. We keep indulging in debates as treasury and opposition in the ADC, but we are all suffering. Let’s talk in chorus and urge the state government to at least approve the Bills unanimously passed in the District Council,” said Debbarman.

Meanwhile, in the Assembly debates, TMP MLA Brishaketu Debbarma, who was earlier with the IPFT, asserted that TTAADC’s annual budget is much lesser than the Agartala Municipal Corporation formed to look after the city. “In the last financial year, funds tuned to Rs 619 crore were approved as budget, but only Rs 585 crore was released. Agartala Municipal Corporation, confined to the City areas, has an annual budget worth over Rs 2,000 crore. The TTAADC, spread over the state’s two-thirds geographical area, receives less than Rs 600 crore. The TTAADC’s budget must be above Rs 1,000 crore,” he pointed out.

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