In what looks like a puncture of the BJP’s much-celebrated win in Tripura, its ally Indigenous People’s Forum of Tripura (IPFT) has categorically demanded that a Tiprasa face be made the chief minister, failing which they will not be part of the government.
“Discussions are going on at the moment; all I can say is that the IPFT has only proposed, there’s no demand,” BJP leader Sunil Deodhar told DNA over the phone from Agartala. Yet, by evening, the demand drove the leaders of both the parties into a series of discussions during which IPFT leader NC Debbarma is said to have placed the demand.
Debbarma said that the demand is a reflection of the aspirations of the people. “We want a clear balancing of the portfolios keeping in mind the sentiment of the people. We are hoping for a positive response,” Debbarma told DNA. A close aide of Debbarma said that the party has also made demands for some key portfolios including home, general administration, rural development, forest, land revenue and education.
Apart from Debbarma, frontrunners for the top job include RSS leader Rampada Jamatia, Atul Debbarma and Jishnu Debbarma.
However, what might not work in Jishu’s favour is that he was contesting from Charilam constituency, and elections here were deferred as sitting CPM MLA Ramendra Narayan Debbarma passed away a week before the elections.
Sources in the know also said that Deodhar will have a key stake in the matter, and that Jamatia and Sudip Roy Barman could emerge as dark horses for the top post.
The BJP-IPFT combine had won 43 of the state’s 59 seats where elections were held, including 17 of the 20 seats reserved for the Tiprasa population.
What will be a hard bargain for the IPFT is that it has won only seven seats, while the BJP with its 35 seats can easily form the government on it own. The IPFT had first voiced their demand in a press conference in Agartala on Sunday, held without the knowledge of the BJP.
Before the alliance contested the elections, the IPFT had put forward a series of demands, including the renaming of Agartala airport to Maharaja Bir Bikram Airport, of the Tripura Museum to Ujjayanta Palace museum, of roads named after communist leaders, and of Astabal Maidan. Demands were also made of a CBI enquiry for Rose Valley scam, deaths of journalists Shantanu Bhowmik, among others.
The IPFT, which had demanded for a separate state before the alliance had set it aside after the BJP announced a modality committee under the MHA which will study the demand. It said that the report will be filed in a year, and till then the IPFT’s demand for Twipraland will be set aside.
To add salt to the injury Congress working president Pradyot Manikya Debbarman said that the BJP should not forget these demands. “I hope that political parties do not change after the elections. The vote of the people was as much for Twipraland as it was to dethrone the CPM,” he said.