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Polls nearing in Tripura, BJP ally IPFT loses 3rd MLA to royal scion’s party, TIPRA Motha

Mevar Kumar Jamatia lost IPFT president post after feud with party chief in May & was soon dropped from Cabinet. Ruling coalition, however, still has comfortable numbers in assembly.

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Guwahati: With just three months left for the Assembly elections, Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) MLA Mevar Kumar Jamatia resigned from the state assembly, making him the seventh legislator to exit from the ruling alliance in the Northeast state.

The former tribal welfare minister joined the Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance (TIPRA) Motha Wednesday, after submitting his resignation to Tripura assembly speaker Ratan Chakraborty a day earlier.

“I was not happy there, [as] I could not perform my duties as I wanted to. There was a lot of interference,” Jamatia told ThePrint. “Commitments made before the elections were also not followed. There was also no follow up by the high-power committee that had been constituted by the Home Ministry [back in 2018 on the socio-economic, cultural and linguistic problems faced by Tripura’s tribal communities].”

Jamatia had also been quoted as saying that the exodus of the seven ruling MLAs —  four from the Bharatiya Janata Party and three from the IPFT — had proven that “the performance of the government is not up to the mark”.

Four of the seven legislators — Jamatia, Dhananjoy Tripura, Brishaketu Debbarma (the IPFT), and Burbo Mohan Tripura (the BJP) — have joined the TIPRA Motha. While Sudip Roy Barman and Asish Saha of the BJP are now with the Congress, another party MLA Asish Kumar Das was disqualified for “gross misconduct”.

Despite the series of exits, the Manik Sarkar government faces no threat in the 60-member Tripura assembly with the BJP and the IPFT having 34 and five legislators, respectively. The exits first began in 2021 with Brishaketu Debbarma resigning from the IPFT.

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Political implications

Jamatia, who was elected from Asharambari constituency of Khowai in 2018, also exited from the IPFT of which he had served as the general secretary till March.

Back in February ahead of the 2021 Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council polls, both Jamatia and Debbarma had come out in favour of TIPRA Motha. But, conflict arose over the question of whether IPFT should merge with the TIPRA Motha, with Jamatia opting for a merger. After serving as the party’s general secretary, Jamatia had been elected as the president but the internal feud with IPFT supremo N. C. Debbarma led to him losing the post.

In the cabinet reshuffle that took place in May after BJP’s Manik Saha replaced Biplab Kumar Deb as the chief minister, Jamatia was dropped from the cabinet.

“He wasn’t able to stay on with IPFT itself. It is only natural for him to criticise the ruling coalition. Why didn’t he raise these issues about interference before?” Tripura BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharjee told ThePrint.

“The current alliance will remain but for the election, BJP has decided to fight alone on all 60 seats,” the BJP spokesperson said, responding to a question about the road ahead with the IPFT.

TIPRA Employees Federation head Sunil Kalai asserted that the tribal leaders were finding an ally in Motha supremo Pradyot Manikya Debbarma, the scion of Tripura’s erstwhile royal family.

“It isn’t about the perceived failures of Mevar Kumar Jamatia but the strong leadership of the Maharaja (Pradyot Debbarma). These tribal leaders are finding safety and security with the Maharaja,” said Kalai, who is an assistant professor at the Department of Journalism in Tripura University.

“Apart from their emblem, the N. C. Debbarma-led IPFT has nothing left. They are finished in the grassroots.”

Established in 1996, the IPFT has been demanding a separate state for tribals, Tiparaland. It, however, is facing a stiff challenge from TIPRA Motha won the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council polls last year riding on its demand of Greater Tipraland. The TIPRA Motha is also expected to emerge as winners on the 20 tribal seats in the upcoming elections.

(Edited by Tony Rai)

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