Tripura tribal party chief threatens to launch hunger strike over ‘Greater Tipraland’ demand

Agartala, Feb 24 : Former royal scion Pradyot Bikram Manikya Deb Barman, whose party — Tipra Motha Party (TMP) — has been demanding ‘Greater Tipraland’ or a separate state, on Saturday threatened to launch for a fast unto death hunger strike soon if the Centre does not accept his party’s demands at the earliest.

Deb Barman, who held a series of meeting with the Central government officials, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and his Tripura counterpart Manik Saha and senior BJP leaders for the part more than one year to fulfil the TMP’s demand, said that he would soon announce the schedule of his fast unto death hunger strike.

“I am ready to die for the cause of the tribals. My only target is to resolve economic and constitutional problems of the tribals,” the TMP supremo told the media and accused the Central government of depriving the tribals of their Constitutional rights.”

Deb Barman asked: “The Central leaders assured us to fulfil our demands. We trust them but nothing has been done yet. People in Delhi try to avoid us. The Jammu and Kashmir issue and creation of Telangana were taken up in a short span of time, so why is the Centre taking so much time about our demand?”

He said that his party (TMP) was neither with the BJP-led NDA or Congress-led INDIA bloc.

“Whichever party supports our demand (‘Greater Tipraland’), we will support them. We do not want the tribals to remain poor and deprived from their due Constitutional rights,” the TMP chief said.

Deb Barman on Friday night held a meeting with Tripura unit Congress President Asish Kumar Saha and senior Congress leader and MLA Sudip Roy Barman and discussed the current political situation in the state.

After the meeting with the Congress leaders, Deb Barman held a meeting with his party’s senior leaders and on Saturday, announced that he would launch a fast unto death agitation if TMP’s ‘Greater Tipraland’ demand was not accepted by the Central government.

According to some reports, the TMP was divided on its future political course of action with a section of the party leaders and MLAs having been pressing for joining the ruling BJP, and another faction keen to fight alone or join the anti-BJP front ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Deb Barman along with his senior party leaders recently held meetings in Agartala and Delhi with the Centre’s envoy and advisor to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) A.K. Mishra and discussed various tribal related issues.

He said that his party is sticking to its ‘Greater Tipraland’ demand and “Centre should fulfil our demand and they should come out clearly with their views about our demand”.

The TMP’s ‘Greater Tipraland’ demand, which is supported by the ruling BJP’s ally Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), has become a major issue in Tripura politics since 2021.

After the TMP wrested the power in the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) in April 2021, the party intensified their agitation in support of their demand, which has been strongly opposing by the BJP, CPI-M led Left Front, Congress and Trinamool Congress and other parties.

BJP’s ally IPFT has also been demanding to upgrade the TTAADC as a full-fledged state.

The TTAADC, which has a jurisdiction on over two-thirds of Tripura’s 10,491 sq km area, and is home to over 12,16,000 people, of which around 84 per cent are tribals, is, in terms of its political significance, second most important constitutional body after the Tripura Assembly.

Political pundits said that both the TMP and the IPFT, to capitalise the tribal vote bank, raise tribal-centric demands like upgradation of the TTAADC as a separate state for the tribals even though they fully aware that such demand would never be fulfilled due to obvious reasons.

The TMP, in its maiden electoral battle, fielded 42 candidates, including 20 on tribal reserved seats, in the last year’s Assembly polls, and bagged 13 seats and 19.69 per cent votes as it highlighted its demand for ‘Greater Tipraland State’ or a separate state.

After the February 16 (2023) assembly polls, the TMP became the second single largest party and got the main opposition party status in the state.

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