Addressing Tripura’s indigeneity concerns - Hindustan Times
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Addressing Tripura’s indigeneity concerns

ByHT Editorial
Mar 04, 2024 09:25 PM IST

Identity politics revolving around questions of ethnicity, language and faith has been central to the Northeast.

The tripartite accord in Tripura is a face-saver for the Tipra Motha, whose leader Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarma has been on a hunger strike. The Centre, the state government and Tipra Motha have agreed to constitute a joint working committee to resolve various contentious issues, including land rights, identity, language, and culture. Following the agreement, Debbarma has withdrawn his strike. Though he has not clarified if the party will join the NDA, it is clear that the BJP, which holds both Lok Sabha seats from the state, can now breathe easy before the general elections.

West Tripura: TIPRA founder Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarma breaks his fast after a tripartite pact was signed among the Tipra Motha, the Tripura government and the Centre in presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday, in West Tripura district, Sunday, March 3, 2024. (PTI Photo)(PTI03_03_2024_000218A)(PTI) PREMIUM
West Tripura: TIPRA founder Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarma breaks his fast after a tripartite pact was signed among the Tipra Motha, the Tripura government and the Centre in presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday, in West Tripura district, Sunday, March 3, 2024. (PTI Photo)(PTI03_03_2024_000218A)(PTI)

Debbarma, a scion of the Tripura royal family and a former state Congress chief, launched the Tipra Motha claiming that mainstream political parties had compromised the interests of the local population. The idea of Greater Tipraland, a geography imagined to be inhabited by local tribes once upon a time, was the utopia he projected — one where the rights of the tribals would be protected. Such an idea of indigeneity ignores the passage of time and the complicated history of the region. That said, indigenous communities have become a minority in Tripura, where the mostly immigrant Bengali population has come to dominate political, economic and cultural life. The Left, which dominated Tripura for nearly four decades, subsumed concerns about tribal identity and agency within its class politics, which also led to the rise of a short-lived insurgency.

Identity politics revolving around questions of ethnicity, language and faith has been central to the Northeast. Solutions have been found within the framework of the Constitution with varying degrees of success. Tripura’s concerns about ethnicity and cultural identity too can be addressed, surely, but without glorifying indigeneity to the extent of exclusivity.

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