AGARTALA – Tipra Motha Party (TMP) chief Pradyot Bikram Manikya Deb Barman, who had held a series of meetings with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on appointment of an interlocutor and constitutional solutions to the problems of the tribals in Tripura, on Tuesday announced that his party would launch agitation in support of their demand.
In a video message, Deb Barman, a former royal scion of Tripura, said that he is not a beggar, and he and his party’s fight is for a constitutional solution to the tribal issues and problems.
“I have sold my royal properties in Kolkata to organise agitations for the interest of the tribals. Personally I do not want to get any government post. My only aim is to secure the future of the backward tribals,” he said.
Noting that some of his party leaders are keen to join the BJP for their personal interest, he said: “I told them, you may join the BJP, but never complain about your deprivations.”
He said that Union Home Minister Shah and Assam Chief Minister Sarma assured them on a several occasions that an interlocutor would be appointed and greater autonomy would be provided to the tribals, but several months had passed and nothing was done.
Criticising Tripura Chief Minister Manik Saha and other BJP leaders, Deb Barman said that the state government has been depriving the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) by not providing adequate funds to the constitutional body.
According to a Tripura government notification, the Centre’s advisor on northeast affairs Akshay Kumar Mishra was supposed to visit Tripura on May 12 to discuss the issues raised by the TMP, but he did not turn up.
In the last week of March, Deb Barman had announced an indefinite hunger strike unless the Centre met the party’s demands by March 27 and on March 29, the TMP leaders led by him held a meeting with Sarma in Guwahati.
Sarma while talking to the media in Guwahati on Tuesday, refused to comment about Deb Barman’s announcement to launch a stir in support of their demands.
The TMP, after capturing the politically important TTAADC in April 2021, has been demanding elevation of the areas of the autonomous body by granting a ‘Greater Tipraland State’ or a separate state status under Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution.
The ruling BJP, CPI-M led Left parties, Congress and the Trinamool Congress have been strongly opposing the demands of TMP.
The tribal based party in its maiden electoral battle fielded 42 candidates, including 20 on tribal reserved seats in the Tripura assembly polls in February and bagged 13 seats and 19.69 per cent votes become the second single largest party after the BJP, which got 32 seats and returned to the power for the second consecutive term.
Just before the March 24 election to the Tripura Assembly Speaker, Deb Barman had said that the Union Home Minister had informed him that the Centre would appoint an interlocutor by March 27 to study the “constitutional solutions” to the TMP’s demands for providing more autonomy and socio-economic development of the tribals, who constitute one-third of Tripura’s 4 million population.
After attending the BJP-IPFT ministers’ swearing in ceremony on March 8, the Union Home Minister, BJP President J.P. Nadda, Assam and Tripura chief ministers held a meeting with Deb Barman and the TMP chief later claimed that Shah has assured him that like in the case of Nagaland, an interlocutor will be appointed to study and resolve the demands of the TMP within three months.
The BJP keeping in mind the tribal votes also requested the TMP leaders to join the BJP led ministry and kept three ministerial berths vacant for the tribal party.