By Satyaki Chakraborty
Tipra Motha (TM), the powerful tribal party of Tripura has approached the BJP for an alliance to share the seats in the Lok Sabha election in 2024. Tripura has two seats in Lok Sabha including one as reserved. TM wants to contest the reserved seat and leave the general seat to the BJP.
Presently, BJP holds both the Lok Sabha seats, but the result of the recent assembly elections show that if TM aligns with the INDIA bloc consisting of the CPI(M) and the Congress in the Lok Sabha polls, the BJP can not get both the sets. In fact, there is a good possibility of BJP losing both the seats if there is a total understanding of the opposition parties in Tripura including TM.
Out of the 60 member Tripura assembly, presently, BJP has got a majority with 33 seats along with its tribal partner IPFT, while the CPI-M Congress combo has got 14 seats and TM 13. In the assembly polls early this year, BJP tried to form an alliance with TM but the TM leadership wanted an assurance on their demand for a separate Tipraland with autonomous powers within Tripura. Talks were held with the Home Minister Amit Shah a number of times but the HM did not agree.
As a result, TM fought alone. and emerged as the main political party of the tribals after the 2023 assembly elections. TM was founded only in 2021 and soon after it won convincingly in the Tribals autonomous council polls trouncing the other tribal body, the present BJP ally IPFT.
In the last seven months since the last assembly elections, BJP leadership at the central level had talks with TM leadership about an alliance. In fact in the month of July, the TM leaders were hopeful of some understanding on their demand, but finally the talks failed though the BJP leaders said that the doors were still open for negotiations. The TM supremo Pradyot Bikram Manikya Debbarma got angry with the BJP leaders at that time but piped down later after the central leaders approached him again.
Though this time, the TM has approached for seat sharing with BJP, the process may not be smooth. BJP has already announced at the state level that the party will contest both the present seats. As per the calculation made by the war room of the BJP on Lok Sabha polls, the party may face big losses in West Bengal in 2024 polls as also in the Hindi heartland, so it can not afford losing a single seat in North Eastern states including Tripura.
So the sources say that the central BJP leadership is approaching TM with the offer that since TM is a state based party, the BJP will take care of its state based demands in future and the TM should reciprocate by supporting the BJP in both the seats. It is not clear whether TM will agree to this offer of BJP.
As regards the INDIA bloc, the Congress had a good opportunity to persuade the TM supremo Pradyot Bikram to be a partner of the alliance against the BJP, but the party did nothing. All the political leaders know that Pradyot has a big ego since he is royal scion. He was in the Congress and quite close to Rahul Gandhi He would have taken a position against the state BJP if Rahul would have talked to him. There was no contact from Rahul’s side though Pradyot looked for that during his long stay in Delhi. Thus, Congress missed a big opportunity.
Even now, there is time. The BJP-TM deal is not clinched yet. Congress may take the initiative in opening negotiations with the TM supremo. In politics, right action at right time is important. (IPA Service)