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Thursday, Nov 21, 2019

Tripura elections: BJP inches closer to pre-poll alliance with tribal outfit IPFT

BJP has expanded rapidly in the Northeast since 2014 and is in power in at least four states , either on its own or in alliance.

india Updated: Jan 19, 2018 13:43 IST
Kumar Uttam
Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A BJP supporter waves victory sign during party president Amit Shah's rally in Ambasa, Tripura.
A BJP supporter waves victory sign during party president Amit Shah's rally in Ambasa, Tripura.(PTI File Photo)

The BJP has inched closer towards an alliance with the tribal outfit, Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), ahead of next month’s assembly polls in the Left-ruled northeastern state, a party leader said.

The BJP is also in talks with another outfit, Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra (INPT).

“Yes it was a very long meeting. @BJP4India and IPFT are now inching closer towards a formal electoral alliance in Tripura,” Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma tweeted after the meeting between two parties.

Sarma is chairman of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance , a conglomerate of several parties of the region.

Despite its late entry, the BJP has expanded rapidly in the region since 2014 and is in power in at least four states , either on its own or in alliance -- Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.

The CPM has been in power in Tripura since since 1993 and controls 18 out of 20 Scheduled Tribe reserved seats where the IPTF and INPT have significant influence. Another leftist party, the CPI, has its MLA in another of these seats.

Tripura assembly has 60 seats and the CPM-CPI combine won 50 of them in 2013.

“We except to finalise the talks over the next week,” BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said.

The IPFT has been demanding a separate Tipraland, but the BJP does not subscribe to it.

Negotiations between the two parties, so far, hint that the BJP will agree to any demand for more autonomy to the tribal-dominated areas of Tripura, but will not accede to the demand for a separate state.

The INPT, which is also negotiating with the Congress, too, has its channel of communication open with the BJP.

The BJP is hoping to put up a strong fight to the CPM and improve its vote share manifold.

The BJP got a meagre 1.15 lakh out of over 20 lakh votes polled in the 2014 Lok Sabha seats, as compared to CPM tally of about 13 lakh.

Since then six Trinamool Congress MLAs have joined the BJP making it the second-largest party in the state. Trinamool polled about 2 lakh votes in the Lok Sabha election of 2014. The Congress’s figure was a little over 3 lakhs.

Madhav said the CPM was a facing strong anti-incumbency and the popularity of the prime minister Narendra Modi and BJP’s organisational strength will help the party win the election.

“Today, many senior Congress leaders are with the BJP. Trinamool Congress MLAs have joined us. We have worked extensively over the last 3-4 months to increase our base,” Madhav said.

Home minister Rajnath Singh will launch the BJP’s campaign in Tripura next week and the Prime Minister will address two rallies.