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Tripura Assembly Elections 2018: With 8 Out of 9 Tribal Seats, IPFT Emerges as a Key Player

The IPFT contested in the nine tribal reserved seats of Simna, Mandwai Bazar, Takarjala, Ampinagar, Manu, Raima valley, Ramchandra Ghat, Asharam bari, and Kanchanpur. Except for Manu, where CPI(M)’s Pravat Chowdhury won, the IPFT swept the others.

Sujit Nath | News18.com

Updated:March 4, 2018, 9:29 AM IST
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Tripura Assembly Elections 2018: With 8 Out of 9 Tribal Seats, IPFT Emerges as a Key Player
File photo of IPFT (Indigenous People Front of Tripura) members on a road and rail blockade movement program to demand a separate state called 'Twipraland' on the outskirts of capital of Agartala. (Getty Images)
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Kolkata: After years of alleged ‘crackdown and suppression’ by the CPI(M) government, the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) has managed to rally and win eight out of the nine seats it contested in.

The IPFT contested in the nine tribal reserved seats of Simna, Mandwai Bazar, Takarjala, Ampinagar, Manu, Raima valley, Ramchandra Ghat, Asharam bari, and Kanchanpur. Except for Manu, where CPI(M)’s Pravat Chowdhury won, the IPFT swept the others.

In Simna, IPFT’s Brishaketu Debbarma won by 15977 votes against CPI(M)’s Pranab Debbarma (14014 votes), while in Mandaibazar, Dhirendra Debbarma won by 21381 votes against CPI (M)’s Monoranjan Debbarma (15517 votes).

In Takarjala, IPFT founder Narendra Chandra Debbarma won by 22056 votes against CPI(M)’s Ramendra Debbarma (9404 votes), while in Raima Valley, Dhananjoy Tripura won by 18673 votes while CPI (M)’s Lalit Mohan Tripura got only 16751 votes.

Ramchandra Ghat, Asharam Bari and Kanchanpur seats were also comfortably secured by IPFT’s Prasanta Debbarma (19439 votes), Mevar Kumar Jamatia (19188 votes) and Prem Kumar Reang (19448 votes). In Ampinagar, Sindhu Chandra Jamatia managed to upset the incumbent MLA, CPI(M)'s Daniel Jamatia.

This is in stark contrast to the party’s fortunes in 2013 when it failed to win any seats and only got 0.46% of the total vote share.

IPFT is a tribal-based faction led by NC Debbarma. The party has long been asking for a separate state — Twipraland, the demand for which missing when they decided to contest the elections in alliance with the BJP on a minimum common program.

However, soon after securing victory in eight seats, IPFT working president NC Debbarma told News18, “We are still sticking to our demand for a separate state of Twipraland. People voted for us only because we promised them adequate development in tribal areas and a separate state. Our party was founded on the principle of a separate state and this demand will always be present.”

When asked how it feels to emerge as a key player in the Tripura politics, he said, “I would like to thank the nearly 12 lakh tribal voters for trusting us. We are committed towards socio-economic, linguistic and cultural development of the indigenous people. A committee has already been formed by the central government to address issues of tribal people. We will focus more on skill development for the tribal youths and fill up of all tribal vacancies in the government departments, which was ignored by the Manik Sarkar-led government. You just can’t ignore indigenous people if you are in Tripura politics.”

Debbarma further added that the tribals took really well to the promises made by the BJP-IPFT alliance. “Apart from the demand of a separate state, tribal people responded well to our promise to strengthen the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTADC). We promised to empower TTADC with more funds and various development projects. There will be 100 model villages with all modern amenities and Mini Special Economic Zones in TTADC areas. These are the visions we have planned for our tribal brothers and sisters. They were neglected by the CPI(M) government and now they have placed their trust in us. Therefore, it is now our responsibility to work for their welfare.”

In 2017, IPFT came catapulted into the limelight after hundreds of its supporters blocked national highways and state’s lone railway track demanding the creation of Twipraland. It was founded in the late 1990s by Harinath Debbarma and NC Debbarma. Since then, they have been fighting for a separate state. While the Left Front government has for long opposed the party, the BJP played it right – without committing a separate state, they promised to look after all the socio-economic issues of the tribal people in Tripura.

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| Edited by: Aditya Nair
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