Tripura’s royal scion and chairperson of the Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Alliance (TIPRA) Pradyot Kishore Debbarman on Tuesday reiterated that acceptance of the demand for a ‘Greater Tipraland’ will be a precondition for an alliance with a national political party. He rejected outright newspaper reports over his party’s seat sharing discussions with the Congress for the 2023 Assembly elections.
“The media reports are not correct. We have not held any dialogue with the Congress on any issue so far,” he told journalists.
Reports of a possible alliance between the Congress, TIPRA and the Trinamool Congress have been appearing in local media ever since former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLAs and senior leaders Sudip Roy Barman and Asish Kumar Saha joined the Congress. According to them, TIPRA appears to be a very important political entity after its massive triumph in elections to the Tribal Autonomous District Council held in early 2021.
TIPRA has also announced that it would contest Assembly elections next year and said it was not averse to joining hands with a major party. “Whoever is interested to have a grouping with us must assure us in black and white, in writing, confirming acceptance of our demand for ‘Greater Tipraland’,” he asserted.
The idea of ‘Greater Tipraland’ is aimed at creating a territory with areas even beyond Tripura where Borok (native indigenous residents of Tripura) are residing. Many tribal leaders, including the Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) president N.C. Debbarma and the BJP’s Scheduled Tribe cell leaders, criticised the demand, suggesting it has no practical meaning and alleging that it tends to confuse the State’s 33% indigenous population.
Mr. Debbarman, however, insisted that the issue is relevant and is not a gimmick, and that the demand is possible within the framework of the Constitution of India.
Twenty of 60 seats in Tripura State Assembly are reserved for the tribal community. TIPRA is confident that it can win a majority of the reserved seats in the February 2023 elections and will have the capacity to bargain with a major political party even on contentious issues.