Tripura party teams up with BJP

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Agartala
  • Published 23.03.09
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Agartala, March 23: The National Council of Tripura (NCT) has struck a deal with the BJP to campaign for its candidates in the run-up to the April 23 Lok Sabha elections in the state.

The BJP’s general secretary in-charge of Northeast, P. Chandrasekhar Rao, finalised the deal with NCT president and former MLA Animesh Debbarma.

At a joint news conference held in the BJP office, Debbarma said the NCT would campaign for the BJP candidates — Nilmoni Deb in West Tripura and Pulin Dewan in East Tripura seats — as part of an understanding that if the BJP-led NDA formed the government, the Autonomous District Council (ADC) for tribals in Tripura would be given more power.

“At present, the ADC is totally dependent on the state government for funds. We have asked for an amendment of the rules so that funds for ADC will be earmarked,” Debbarma said, adding that the viability of funds directly devolving to the ADC from the Centre would also be studied.

Explaining his decision to extend support to the BJP, Debbarma said as a regional party the NCT needed to have a rapport with a national party though he refused to term the electoral support as a formal alliance. “There are issues which can not be decided right now, for the present we will support the BJP on the basis of a clear understanding,” Debbarma said.

EC notice

The Election Commission on Monday notified Lok Sabha elections and byelections in four Assembly seats in Nagaland. It also notified polls in both seats of Arunachal Pradesh and the first phase of polls on April 16 in Outer Manipur.

Rao and state party president Nilmoni Deb said the NCT’s support to the party would help it in the campaign and in securing tribal support. “We are always ready to co-operate and work together with regional parties because we respect regional sentiments and aspirations which these parties represent,” Rao said.

Moreover in the case of NCT no major ideological issue is also involved,” said Rao.

He said the upcoming polls would help BJP gain in organisational strength.

The NCT’s decision to extend support to the BJP candidates has taken state Congress leadership by surprise because Animesh had worked closely with Congress till his talks over electoral alliance had collapsed before the last Assembly polls.

A former executive of the Indian Oil, Animesh had resigned his job in Mumbai and contested Assembly polls in 2003 and won the tribal reserve Pramod Nagar Assembly seat with the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT) ticket.

However, he had developed differences with the INPT leadership and finally quit the party in December 2006 to form the NCT.

“We thought he would remain with us but now that he had thrown his lot with communal BJP we have nothing to say,” said Congress spokesman Tapas De.

Another regional tribal party, the Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) has decided to contest the two Lok Sabha seats to make its presence felt.

The IPFT had been abolished in early 2002 to form the INPT through merger with the Tripura Upajati Juba Samity (TUJS) but factional feud was rampant in the new entity and early this month former IPFT leaders, Narendra Debbarma, Harinath Debbarma and their follower left the INPT and revived the old party.

However, the former TUJS leaders who had gone for merger to constitute the INPT still have retained the banner though party general secretary Rabindra Debbarma indicated that it might be revived soon.