States & UTs

    Tripura's changing of the guard may not benefit the BJP as it staves off the tribal party

    Pankaj Sharma
    December24/ 2022
    Last Updated:

    Agartala (The Hawk): To send a message of hope to the populace and combat the anti-incumbency effect, the BJP replaced Tripura's chief minister seven months ago. But the Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance is now posing a genuinely royal threat to the saffron party and the other opposition parties (TIPRA).

    The growth of TIPRA and other significant concerns and developments from 2022 are anticipated to continue into the new year, altering the political climate in the northeastern state that is about to have elections.

    The Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council should be elevated into "Greater Tipraland State" for the tribals, who make up one-third of the state's four million residents, according to the TIPRA, led by former royal scion Pradyot Bikram Manikya Deb Barman.

    Before the anticipated February assembly elections, the extremely sensitive "Greater Tipraland State" demand of the TIPRA, also known as Tipra Motha, "convinced" an unanticipated number of tribals, raising serious electoral concerns for the BJP, CPI-M, Congress, and the Trinamool Congress.

    On May 14, the BJP's top officials abruptly fired Biplab Kumar Deb as chief minister, replacing him with Manik Saha, the state's president at the time and a Rajya Sabha member.

    The party's national and state leaders have yet to explain why Deb was demoted from the top position.

    The state of Tripura was dominated in 2022 by the change of the chief minister, the sudden rise of TIPRA, the Trinamool Congress' determined efforts to grow its organisational base in the BJP-ruled Tripura, political violence, despite agitations, the rehabilitation of more than 37,136 tribal people who sought refuge in Tripura after being driven from Mizoram 25 years ago, switching sides by seven MLAs of the BJP and the IPFT to the Congress, and the TIPRA. Some of these

    Despite strongly opposing the TIPRA's demand for a "Greater Tipraland State," all of the major political parties, including the ruling BJP and the opposition CPI-M, as well as the Congress and Trinamool Congress, are secretly attempting to form an alliance with the tribal-based party in order to win the support of tribal voters, who will determine whether or not an absolute majority is achieved in the elections.

    Out of the 60 assembly seats in Tripura, 20 seats are set aside for indigenous people and 10 seats for members of scheduled caste communities.

    The BJP is eager to keep up the same pace in Tripura as it did in Assam (2021) and Manipur (2022), where it won re-election for a second time in a row.

    In Tripura, the BJP won the 2018 assembly elections in an alliance with the tribal party Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT), ousting the CPI-M-led Left parties, which had ruled the northeastern state for 35 years in two phases (1978-1988 and 1993-2018).

    According to political analyst Sekhar Datta, the BJP government has been dealing with so many anti-incumbency issues that they are ill-prepared to handle the election challenge.

    The BJP's top leaders do not want to risk trying to fix all of the problems, shortfalls, and failures in the current administration. They began the electoral preparations in a large way and well in advance because of this.

    In order to finalise the plan before the poll, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the party's national president J. P. Nadda already visited the state, according to Datta, who spoke to IANS.

    Political observers claim that Biplab Kumar Deb's removal from the party's top position on May 14 was an obvious effort to combat anti-incumbency and any internal unrest in Tripura, even though the party's national and state officials have not yet provided an explanation.

    The top leaders of the BJP decided to implement a similar change in Tripura, where the party had less than 2% of the vote before the 2018 assembly elections, after the approach of replacing the chief minister ahead of elections proved successful in Uttarakhand.

    Since 2019, the BJP has replaced the chief ministers of five states, including Gujarat and Karnataka.

    In terms of trade and business, Tripura sold natural rubber, pineapples, jackfruits, lemons, and other fruits to Bangladesh, Nepal, Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, and other nations, which inspired farmers to increase their production of these products.

    The Tripura administration promised to make the region a "drug-free state," and over 2,000 drug dealers were apprehended and jailed by law enforcement authorities.

    According to Tripura Chief Minister Manik Saha, when drug-related activities declined, 40% of atrocities against women and 10% of incidences involving the rape of young girls also fell.

    Following Tripura's emergence as the second-largest natural rubber-producing state in the nation after Kerala, where natural rubber is currently grown on 89,264 hectares of land and produces 93,371 tonnes of rubber annually valued at Rs 1691 crore, the state government has adopted a policy to extensively cultivate the prized Agar tree there.

    More than 12 million Agar trees can be found in the state's private sector.

    (Inputs from Agencies)