Biplab Kumar Deb. (File Photo: IANS). Image Source: IANS News

Agartala, March 7 : The strained ties between the ruling BJP and its ally IPFT further deteriorated on Sunday after the junior partner unilaterally announced its candidates for the April 4 elections to the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC), which is considered as a mini-state Assembly in terms of political significance.

The BJP, soon after the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura's (IPFT) announcement of the candidates' list, accused the tribal party of violating the "Joot Dharma" (coalition principles). However, both BJP and IPFT leaders said that their "alliance is still active and alive".

IPFT President Narendra Chandra Debbarma and General Secretary Mevar Kumar Jamatia accompanied by other senior leaders on Sunday night announced the names of candidates for 18 of the 28 elective seats of TTAADC, which has a jurisdiction of over two-thirds of Tripura's 10,491 sq km area and is home to over 12,16,000 people, 90 per cent of which are tribals.

"We are yet to announce the names of 10 candidates. If the BJP or any other parties want to contest the TTAADC polls in alliance with the IPFT, we can share the 10 seats with them, otherwise we would put up candidates in these 10 seats," Debbarma told the media.

Debbarma and Jamatia are ministers in the BJP-led Council of Ministers headed by Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb. The IPFT President said that despite their repeated appeal, the BJP leadership in Tripura and at the Centre did not yet discuss the seat sharing pattern and ratio in the upcoming polls to the TTAADC, which was constituted under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution in June 1985 to promote the socio-economic and traditional culture of the tribals, who constitute one third of Tripura's four million population.

"After getting no response from the state leadership, delegations led by our party's General Secretary and Forest Minister Mevar Kumar Jamatia went to Delhi three times and urged the BJP's central leaders including the party's President J.P. Nadda to finalise the seat sharing for the TTAADC polls," the veteran tribal leader said.

Immediately after the IPFT announced their nominees for the TTAADC polls, BJP Spokesman Nabendu Bhattacharjee said that the IPFT's unilateral decision is against the principales of coalition politics. "Such hostile and adverse decisions are not healthy and congenial," he told the media.

The BJP-IPFT relations started deteriorating after the IPFT's top leadership since February 20 held a series of meetings with Tripura's royal scion Pradyot Bikram Manikya Deb Barman, who was earlier state President of Congress but subsequently quit the party in 2019, and recently formed an alliance of few tribal parties and named TIPRA (The Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance).

The IPFT and the BJP had separately contested the Lok Sabha elections in 2019 and both parties put up candidates in the state's two Lok Sabha constituencies and had engaged in accusations and counter accusations that time.

In alliance with the IPFT, the BJP won the Assembly polls three years ago in 2018, ousting the 25-year uninterrupted rule of the CPM-led Left Front. The BJP and the IPFT had secured 36 and 8 seats, respectively, in the 60-member Assembly while the remaining 16 seats were bagged by the CPM.

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