Ahead Of Tripura Polls, Demand For Separate State Remains A Raw Nerve

The Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT) which is the BJP's ally in Tripura has long demanded the creation of a separate Tripuraland state to include the areas that come under Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council. BJP says it favours a united Tripura

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The Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT) wants a separate Tripuraland state

Agartala:  To counter the BJP's poll war cry of 'Chalo Paltai' or 'let's bring change' ahead of the February 18 assembly elections in Tripura, the CPM is using the BJP's alliance with the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT) as a main plank.

The IPFT has long demanded the creation of a separate Tripuraland state to include the areas that come under the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council. Tribals make up about 32 per cent of the state's population.  

"We are trying to reach out to each and every voter and explain the darker side of the BJP-IPFT alliance and how they want to divide the state," said CPM youth leader Biton Das.

The BJP has already made it clear that it doesn't support the demand of it ally. "We don't support the formation of a separate state. Tripura will remain united and we will develop it," said BJP president Amit shah on the campaign trail. 

Tripura saw violent ethnic clashes between Bengalis and tribals in the 1980s. What followed was a spell of tribal Insurgency that was contained by the Left government which has been in power for 25 years in the state.

"How can the BJP, which claims to be a nationalist party, form an alliance with a party which is a divisive force," Chief Minister Manik Sarkar told NDTV in an exclusive interview last week. 

IPFT chief NC Debbarma says the party's core demand of a separate tribal state has not been dumped.

"Because of our demand, the centre has agreed to look into constitute why this demand cropped up in Tripura," said Mr Debbarma. 

Last month, the centre decided to form a high level inter-ministerial committee that would look into the socio-economic, cultural and linguistic scenario of tribals in the state, based largely on IPFT's demand.

Non-tribals fear that any demand for a separate state may disturb the state's social fabric. 

"Our state is small and if it's divided there will again be an ethnic divide between Bengalis and tribals," says 38-year-old Samir Sarkar, a cab driver in Agartala.

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