BJP braces for solo run in Tripura
The BJP’s central election committee met on Friday to finalise candidates for the Tripura elections as the ruling party prepared to go solo after alliance talks with tribal outfit Tipra Motha fell through.
The Tipra Motha, led by former Congress leader and Tripura royal family member Pradyot Bikram Kishore Manikya Debbarma, has emerged as a key player with its demand for a separate state/ Union Territory comprising the tribal areas of the tiny state.
The 60-member Tripura Assembly will go to polls on February 16. The BJP, apprehensive of its poll prospects without a regional partner, had held several rounds of talks with Pradyot. The latest negotiation took place in Delhi on Wednesday where Pradyot remained firm on a written assurance for a separate tribal state, Greater Tipraland.
“No alliance — my heart doesn’t agree and so I have made my decision that I cannot accept New Delhi’s offer… I can’t betray our cause and our people,” Pradyot posted on Twitter on Friday.
Pradyot returned from Delhi on Friday and was engaged in merger talks with the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), a constituent of the BJP-headed coalition government in Tripura.
If the Tipra Motha and the IPFT merge, it could become a potent force in the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council area, which has 20 of the 60 Assembly seats. An IPFT leader told The Telegraph that merger talks were on but “we have not arrived at any decision”.
The IPFT is still part of the ruling alliance. BJP leaders in Delhi said they were all set to go it alone while leaving the option for a post-poll alliance with Pradyot if the party failed to get a majority on its own.
They said it was impossible for the party to support the demand for the bifurcation of a sensitive border state as it could not only give rise to security challenges but also lead to similar demands in other northeastern states.
Despite the overt confidence among BJP leaders on retaining Tripura, internal assessments show that the Congress-CPM alliance can put up a tough fight and restrict the saffron party below the majority mark in the 60-member Assembly.
“Factionalism in the Tripura unit is another big challenge,” a BJP leader said. Though Tripura has just two Lok Sabha seats, the northeastern state holds ideological significance for the BJP, which wants control over the border areas to strengthen its “nationalist” plank.
CPM MLA joins BJP
The BJP got a shot in the arm on Friday as sitting CPM MLA Moboshar Ali and former MLA and Trinamul leader Subal Bhowmik joined the party in Delhi in the presence of chief minister Manik Saha.