Agartala, Oct. 30: The Tripura Congress’s woes have worsened with the twin blows of an FIR against PCC president Sudip Roy Barman by an army colonel as well as the failure of talks between the party and its longstanding electoral partner, the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra (INPT), over sharing of seats for the upcoming Assembly elections.
Altogether six rounds of talks have been held by Roy Barman and general secretary Asish Saha with INPT president Bijay Kumar Hrangkhawal and general secretary Jagadish Debbarma, but no agreement has emerged over the sharing of seats.
The PCC spokesman and former MLA Tapas De said no agreement could be reached because of the INPT’s insistence on allocation of 14 out of 20 seats reserved for the indigenous people.
“The INPT is unrelenting in its demand for 14 out of 20 seats reserved for the Scheduled Tribes, but we feel that the party’s performance in various elections over the past few years and the strength of its political base do not justify allotment of so many seats.”
He said in the Assembly elections of 2008, the INPT had been allotted only 10 seats, but could win only one by a very slender margin.
In the panchayat elections of 2009, the Congress had won 82 of the 511 gaon panchayat seats, but the INPT won even less than a dozen seats, despite being in alliance with the Congress.
“The INPT has no presence in the urban areas of the state, but even in the village committee elections within the autonomous district council (ADC) areas the party won only 17 village committees out of 527 and we had won 56 village committees. This does not justify allotment of 14 Assembly seats to them,” De said.
He added that the final decision on matter of seat-sharing would have to be taken in Delhi by the Congress high command.
Reacting to the PCC spokesman’s contention, senior INPT leader Brajendra Debbarma said the Congress was overestimating its strength and was not considering the ground realities.
“The state Congress leadership is not taking into account our share of votes, which has increased sharply. The indigenous people in Tripura are fed up with the CPM’s misrule, corruption and exploitation for political gains. They are ready to change equation, but the Congress on its own cannot be the vehicle of change,” Brajendra Debbarma said.
He deplored the attitude of the Congress leadership saying they were ignoring the fact that the alliance between the two parties has been in existence since 1983 Assembly polls for mutual benefit.
“The Congress is yet to gain full acceptability of the indigenous people because of its earlier opposition to setting up of ADC in Tripura. On the contrary, there is a strong sentiment in favour of the INPT, which will benefit both the parties in case an understanding over seat-sharing is reached,” he said.
He added that a delegation of INPT led by party president Hrangkhawal and general secretary Jagadish Debbarma will leave for Delhi next month to hold discussions with the Congress high command over the seat-sharing issue.
“We are hopeful that the Congress leaders in Delhi will accept the ground reality and put their seal on a seat-sharing arrangement as in all earlier elections,” Brajendra Debbarma said.