We will ally with any political party that gives us written assurance to support our demand for Greater Tipraland, Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance (or TIPRA Motha) chief Pradyot Bikram Manikya Debbarma told The Hindu on Thursday.
His comments come after CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said that the party is ready for an understanding with the Congress and the TIPRA Motha to defeat the the BJP in the upcoming Assembly election.
The demand for Greater Tipraland is a non-negotiable, Mr. Debbarma asserted.
The Greater Tipraland includes the region under Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous district Council (TTADC) and 36 villages out of it, within the Tripura State boundaries. Tipra Motha is demanding that this area should be carved out as a State or a Union Territory. Currently, Mr. Debbarma said, that the TTADC receives two percent of the State budget while it has 40% of the State’s population.
The Left has expressed support for Greater Tipraland. At a press conference in Agartala on Wednesday, CPI(M) State secretary Jitendra Chowdhury said that the demand is within the Constitutional framework. But the State Congress President Birajit Sinha has already ruled out any support for it.
“There can be no closed door conversation on this. Whoever wants to ally with us needs to give us in writing that they support our demand for Greater Tipraland. I can not betray my people and the entire movement for short term electoral gains,” Mr. Debbarma said.
He added that the Tribal language, culture and socio-political ethos is under threat and delimitation scheduled for 2026 will further push the tribal population to margins. “Unlike the NSCN which is asking for Greater Nagaland, absorbing regions from different States, we are not asking to take away from any State. Ours is a Constitutional demand,” he said.
He did not entirely rule out a tie-up with the BJP too. “I have been fighting them for the last four and a half years. It was Tipra Motha who stood up for the Muslims when mosques were burnt here. But if tomorrow they give to us in writing that they support our demand, we will ally with them. Forget BJP, I will ally with AIADMK and DMK too if they support my demand,” Mr. Debbarma added.
He also underlined that Tipra Motha is the only regional party in Northeast India which is not part of the BJP-led NDA. “I don’t have to prove my credentials to anyone. The Congress leaders in the State who are resisting our demand are the first ones to the join the BJP for power. I believe making me CM or a Minister will not help my community. The question is not about power for me. I want Constitutional safeguard for my community,” Mr. Debbarma asserted.