The newly formed political party Tipra Motha is likely to emerge as the kingmaker after the Tripura assembly polls, in which it will fight a triangular contest with the BJP-IPFT and Congress-Left Front alliances.
Tipra Motha, headed by erstwhile royal scion Pradyot Manikya Debbarma, refused to stitch an alliance with either the BJP or foes-turned-friends Congress and Left Front but has not shunned the possibility of a post-poll coalition with any party that supports its demand for a separate state of Greater Tipraland.
Banking on its stupendous performance in the 2021, Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) polls, in which it bagged 18 of the 30 seats in the body, Tipra Motha has decided to go solo and hopes to sweep the 20 tribal-dominated seats that hold the key to power in the northeastern state that has a 60-member assembly.
The BJP, on the other hand, is not leaving anything to chance, and has decided to contest 55 seats, leaving only five seats for alliance partner Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), which has ceded much ground to Tipra Motha in the tribal areas as the newly formed outfit raised the demand for Greater Tipraland statehood.
The alliance partners will witness a friendly fight in Ampinagar assembly seat in Gomati district as IPFT will contest a total of six constituencies in the February 16 polls.
In the 2018 assembly polls, in which the BJP-IPFT combine ended the 25-year-long rule of the Left Front, the saffron party had bagged 36 seats, including 10 ST reserved constituencies, while its alliance partner had bagged eight seats.
However, the IPFT began losing public support after failing to deliver its core demand of Tipraland state, and instead agreeing to a common minimum programme of the BJP under which the Centre constituted a panel for socio-economic and linguistic development of the tribals, political observers said.
The IPFT, which once played a key role in eroding the Left Front’s traditional tribal vote bank, over the last two-and-half-years suffered loss of support base as Tipra Motha began harping on the demand for Greater Tipraland, a separate state carving out tribal areas of Tripura.
Political observers believe that Tipra Motha’s popularity rose not only because it raised the separate statehood demand but also because tribals still revere the erstwhile royal family and they refer to Pradyot Debbarma as ‘Bubagra’ or king.
Seeing Tipra Motha’s rise in the tribal area, CPI(M) and Congress, rivals that joined hands, and even the BJP sought an electoral adjustment with the regional party but failed due to Debbarma’s uncompromising attitude towards the Greater Tipraland demand, the political observers said.
BJP leader and poll strategist Balai Goswami asserted that in an event of a triangular contest, the saffron party has an edge over the Tipra Motha and Congress-Left Front alliance as anti-BJP votes will get split among them.
“For the first time, a regional party is going solo in the state. The BJP is expected to do better in the hills and it also has a solid base in the plains. We expect our party’s tally to increase in this election,” he told PTI. Senior CPI(M) leader Pabitra Kar said the Congress-Left alliance is expected to gain in the fight between Tipra Motha and the BJP as the saffron party’s alliance partner IPFT has lost its strength in the hills, but the CPI(M) still has its loyal supporters in the tribal areas.
With inputs from News18