Pradyot Manikya Debburman, whose tribal-dominated party Tipra Motha made headlines in the assembly polls in Tripura, has told NDTV that their growing presence will ensure that the BJP will not be able to "sideline" issues relating to tribals. "We will continue to fight with our core demand of constitutional solution to the issues of tribals in Tripura," he told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
Tipra Motha is leading in 12 of the state's 60 seats, and was widely expected to be the kingmaker in this election till Conrad Sangma's NPP appeared to have reached an understanding with the BJP. The party, which is pushing the demand for a greater Tipraland, appears to have eaten into the BJP ally IPFT's tribal support base.
The Congress claimed that Tipra Motha has gained by causing a division of its voter base and that of the Left's. The alliance is leading on only 14 seats -- down from 16 in 2018.
Mr Debburman said the Left-Congress alliance suffered because the expected vote transfer did not take place. "While Left supporters voted for the Congress, it appears that the Congress supporters did not vote for the Left," he said.
"We have emerged as the second largest party in just two years of existence. We were hoping to win few more seats But 13 is not a bad figure... we thank the voters of Tripura for their support," Mr Debburman said.
Asked whether his party will be in the opposition, he said, "It is upto the BJP to think whether we should be in opposition or not".
The BJP and Indigenous Progressive Front of Tripura or IPFT alliance is currently leading in 33 of Tripura's 60 seats. The majority mark lies at 31.
In 2018, a larger majority -- 36 seats -- had led the BJP to form an alliance with the IPFT as an insurance against defection by its MLAs.
The BJP had initially made overtures to the Tipra Motha but was rebuffed after they refused to contemplate any division of the state. The Tipra Motha had signalled that they are committed to the cause of Greater Tipraland.