The Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) is holding parallel talks with current ally Bharatiya Janata Party and the four-year-old Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance (TIPRA) for the February 16 Assembly election in Tripura.
IPFT president and Tribal Welfare Minister Prem Kumar Reang on Sunday said the core members of his party held a closed-door meeting with a TIPRA team led by party chairman Pradyot Bikram Manikya Deb Barman in Guwahati on Saturday.
“Our seat-sharing arrangement has remained inconclusive. We are in talks with both the TIPRA and the BJP,” he said.
Mr. Reang said the IPFT had a pre-poll alliance in 2018. “We would like to continue with the arrangement if the BJP fulfils our demands,” he said.
The IPFT wants the areas under the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) to be declared as a full-fledged State. Its demand since 2009 differs from that of the TIPRA, which seeks the ‘Greater Tipraland’ State comprising the whole of Tripura and areas beyond.
Mr. Reang said his party has not counted out TIPRA because Mr. Deb Barman has been “fighting for the cause of the indigenous tribals wholeheartedly”. He indicated the IPFT and TIPRA would be natural allies as they share similar concerns.
The IPFT and TIPRA are concentrating on 20 Assembly seats that fall within the TTAADC. The remaining 40 seats are dominated by non-tribal people.
Mr. Deb Barman had earlier told journalists that the TIPRA and IPFT leaders have started discussions for a merger or for fighting the polls together from a common platform.
“We can forge an electoral alliance with any party or parties that will give us a written assurance supporting our demand. There’s propaganda that we are tying up with the BJP or Congress or the Communist Party of India (Marxist),” he said.
On Sunday, Mr. Deb Barman tweeted that no trips were made by (TIPRA president) B.K. Hrangkhawl to Delhi to reportedly pursue an alliance with a national party.
The IPFT had won eight of the 10 seats it contested in 2018. It now has four MLAs.
The TIPRA, formed in 2019, controls the 30-member TTAADC after winning the council polls in 2021. The TTAADC has jurisdiction over two-thirds of Tripura’s 10,491 square km area and is home to more than 12,16,000 people, of whom around 84% are tribals.
The IPFT-BJP alliance came to power in 2018, ending more than two decades of Left Front rule in Tripura.