TNT POLL CARD | Will grand regional alliance be 'game-changer' in upcoming Tripura ADC polls?
By Tanmoy Chakraborty | AGARTALA:
The Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) will go to polls on April 4, as announced by the State Election Department.
Significance of Tribal Areas in Tripura
The ADC is two-third the area of Tripura and houses one-third of the State’s population. Presently, the tribal population is around 12 lakh 16 thousand.
This time, the number of registered voters for the upcoming ADC election is over 8,65,041.
The total number of seats is 28, of which three are unreserved, and 25 are tribal reserved.
The three unreserved seats comprise Dashda-Kanchanpur, Manu-Chailengta and Machmara. According to the voter list, these three seats have 65-70 per cent Bangalee voters.
There are also 10-15 per cent Bangalee voters for the other 25 seats.
What to expect in the upcoming election
This time around, all 28 seats may witness a Tri-party fight with the main fight being between the BJP, Left and the TIPRA-IPFT-INPT regional alliance.
As far as the Indian National Congress is concerned, the party has very low influence in the ADC areas unless it forms an alliance with a regional party.
Will TIPRA prove itself in the ADC elections?
Royal scion and TIPRA Chairman Pradyot Kishore Deb Barman, is trying to bring all the regional parties under the banner of TIPRA.
The Tipraland State Party (TSP), Tripura People's Party (TPP), and Indigenous People's Front of Tripura - Tipraha have already merged with TIPRA. However, the influence of these three parties is limited to some pockets only.
The two main regional parties namely the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT) and the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra (INPT) are the driving force for TIPRA.
The IPFT has its vote bank and workers across the ADC area, whereas the INPT is the oldest anti-left party in Tripura, though not as influential as the IPFT.
But the problem is that regional parties like the TSP, TPP, INPT, and Tipraha do not have cordial relations with the IPFT.
Is the fight all about Tipraland?
When TIPRA was announced as a political organisation, Pradyot Kishore declared they would fight for a ‘Greater Tipraland’.
However, many people termed it a separatist slogan.
During the last assembly elections, the IPFT raised the ‘Tipraland’ slogan and were successful. But that may not guarantee success this time.
Earlier, INPT leaders said they would go with ‘Bubagra’ (Maharaja) but would not support the ‘Tipraland’ slogan.
In the recent rally at Khumulung conducted by TIPRA and IPFT, the leaders of INPT were not present, nor were they seen in the joint press conference.
As mentioned earlier, there are 10-15 per cent Bangalee voters in the 25 reserved seats.
If Pradyot goes ahead with his ‘Greater Tipraland’ slogan, will the Bangalee voters support him?
In the last Lok Sabha election in East Tripura Constituency, Congress got 26 per cent of the votes.
This was when Pradyot held the office of Congress president while his sister, Pragya contested from the Congress party.
Interestingly, at the time, he did not raise slogans like ‘Tipraland’ or ‘Greater Tipraland’ and instead opted for ‘Puila Jati Ulo Parti’ (Community/people first then political party) which garnered the support of the people.
During that Lok Sabha election, the Left got only 19.38 per cent of the votes and the IPFT, with their ‘Tipraland’ slogan, got only 4 per cent of the votes.
The BJP got around 46 per cent of the votes even though there were a series of allegations of rigging and other abnormalities from the opposition parties.
Also Read: Tripura ADC polls: TIPRA-IPFT-INPT seat-sharing arrangement still undecided
Also Read: Tripura BJP MP calls IPFT-TIPRA alliance "unethical"; hits out at Pradyot
Will TTAADC witness a change of guard this time?
Though TIPRA leaders are enthusiastic and confident about capturing power this time, they still have to overcome a few hurdles in their way. “Why would the people support TIPRA?” Congress President Pijush Kanti Biswas asked. “They are silent about the sufferings of the common people but only say things about ‘Greater Tipraland’. ‘Tipraland’ has not happened, and ‘Greater Tipraland’ will not come,” Biswas said.
On the other hand, former Chief Executive Member (CEM) and CPIM leader Radha Charan Debbarma stated that it is not a proper time to say that TIPRA will make any difference in the upcoming ADC election.
“But there is no doubt that if TIPRA and all regional parties fight jointly in the election, they can be a game-changer,” Debbarma said.
Last ADC election: Here's how it all went down In the last ADC election in 2015, there were 6,38,060 eligible votes cast in the elections. The electoral turnout stood at 83 per cent. The election result was a landslide victory for the Left Front. The Left Front, with 48.88 per cent of the votes, won all 28 seats that were up for election. 25 seats went to the Communist Party of India (Marxist), one seat to the Communist Party of India, one seat to the RSP and one seat to the All India Forward Bloc.
The Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) emerged as the second-largest party in the election, with 18 per cent of the vote share. The party finished second with 17 seats. Other parties in the fray were the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT) in third place with 10.77 per cent of the vote share.
In the last 70 years of Tripura politics, tribals have been the base of the Communist party. But in the last assembly election, the Left lost its traditional vote bank for the first time. Despite this, the Left in Tripura still has committed vote banks in tribal areas. It is here where the BJP is now trying to strengthen the support base in the tribals areas.
(Edited by Andre Kongri)