Chairman of the Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance (TIPRA) Pradyot Kishore Debbarman on Wednesday described a statement by BJP MP Rebati Tripura as ‘reprehensible’ and said no force can prevent him from meeting the indigenous people. Mr. Debbarman’s remark came a day after the BJP leader issued a warning that they will ‘confine the chief of TIPRA within the Rajbari (palace)’ in reference to the violence allegedly organised by the TIPRA supporters at Taidu in south Tripura.
Mr. Tripura, who was elected from East Tripura (ST Reserved) in 2019 Lok Sabha elections, has been a major tribal face in the BJP. He was reportedly tasked by the party to strengthen the organisation in the tribal areas though his efforts often witness resistance from the TIPRA, the regional party that registered a stunning victory in the elections to the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) last year.
The BJP has alleged that a crowd comprising a few hundred TIPRA supporters, mostly women, attempted to disrupt the party’s joining programme at Taidu on Tuesday. Security forces resorted to mild lathi-charge and fired teargas shells to control the situation.
Speaking at the event held amid heavy deployment of security personnel, Mr. Tripura lashed out at the TIPRA and its leaders for allegedly creating unrest in several places within limits of the TTAADC. His warning to Mr. Debbarman was in this context.
Mr. Debbarman said that it was statement shocking as the statement came from an indigenous leader from the State. “An indigenous leader has spoken against the ‘Bubagra’ (as he is known among the natives), but Bubagra will not bow down to any threat,” he said in an audio statement made in Hindi.
He added that one may try to prevent a ‘lion’ from meeting his people, but would not succeed. “The statement of the BJP MP also confirms his party does not enjoy support in the areas dominated by the indigenous people,” he added.
TIPRA has emerged as a major player in the State’s politics after its massive victory in the TTAADC elections. Twenty seats in the 60-member Assembly are reserved for the tribals, but the regional party announced its decision to contest at 35 constituencies in the next Assembly elections due in February next year.
The party recently sprang a surprise by putting up a candidate for the Surma (SC) seat in Dhalai district – one of four Assembly seats where the byelections would be held on June 23. Election officials informed 23 candidates from various parties are in the fray.