TIPRA Motha Party’s Pradyot has strong showing but can’t become kingmaker
The party, headed by royal scion Pradyot Kishore Debbarma, entered the fray without any pre-poll alliances and was expected to play kingmaker at the very least, but it failed to acquire such leverage, winning 13 of the 42 seats it contested
The TIPRA Motha Party which was touted to be the main challenger to Tripura’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) alliance in the 60-seat assembly turned in a creditable performance but fell short of expectations as the BJP swept the polls comfortably.
The party, headed by royal scion Pradyot Kishore Debbarma, entered the fray without any pre-poll alliances and was expected to play kingmaker at the very least, but it failed to acquire such leverage, winning 13 of the 42 seats it contested.
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The TIPRA Motha Party fielded candidates on these 42 seats after talks with Union home minister Amit Shah in Delhi for a constitutional solution to their Greater Tipraland demand proved futile. Debbarma did not respond to a Left-Congress appeal for a pre-poll pact, saying that his party would not form any alliance without getting written assurances on a constitutional solution to the Greater Tipraland issue.
The BJP won 32 of its 55 contested seats while its ally IPFT managed to get only one.
Of the 47 seats contested, the CPI(M) won 11 while the Congress managed to win just three seats.
“We accept the result given by the voters and will continue to work for development of the state. We were expecting to win 17-19 seats. We have some idea why we failed to reach that mark. A review of the results will be done soon,” said TIPRA Motha Party president BK Hrangkhawl.
Pradyot Kishore floated the party in February 2021 with the agenda of Greater Tipraland, a proposed state for the indigenous communities of Tripura and other northeastern states, including those in neighbouring Bangladesh.
The Greater Tipraland demand helped the party expand its foothold in indigenous hamlets after the IPFT failed to deliver on its proposed Tipraland for the indigenous community. That resulted in TIPRA Motha Party’s victory in the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) polls conducted two months after the party’s formation. Pradyot’s party bagged 18 of 28 seats, ceding nine to the BJP and one to an independent candidate.
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Apart from this, the popularity of the royals among the people has been a major factor in Tripura politics as Pradyot’s parents Kirit Bikram Kishore Manikya Debbarma and Bibhu Kumari Devi previously won Lok Sabha elections. Kirit Bikram defeated popular Left leader Dasarath Dev in the 1967 Lok Sabha polls and Bibhu Devi won the 1991 Lok Sabha polls, defeating Left leader Bajuban Riyan. She also served as revenue minister in the Congress-TUJS coalition government in 1988.
“There’s a sense of insecurity among the state’s indigenous tribal population due to the influx of people from Bangladesh post 1947 and also after the neighbouring country’s independence in 1971. This inherent sense of insecurity made TIPRA Motha Party’s demand of a Greater Tipraland for indigenous people more appealing,” said Salim Shah, professor of economics at Tripura University.
“Added to that, the royal scion Pradyot taking the lead had an emotional appeal among the tribal population. The party was able to perform well in the 20 ST-reserved seats for that reason,” he said.