AGARTALA, March 2 (PTI): Tipra Motha, a regional party floated by Pradoyt Kishore Manikya Debbarma, scion of the erstwhile royal family, is set to play a key role in the formation of the next government in Tripura.
As the counting progressed, Tipra Motha was leading in 12 assembly constituencies out of 20 reserved for Scheduled Tribe categories, denting the hopes of the ruling BJP and the Left-Congress combine of sailing through.
The BJP-IPFT alliance, according to the latest trends, is leading from 30 seats, one short of the magic figure in the 60-member Assembly.
The opposition Left-Congress combine is leading in 17 seats.
Initial trends indicate that Tipra Motha is set to substantially eat into the BJP’s vote share in the state’s tribal belts.
In the 2018 elections, the saffron party had bagged 10 seats reserved for Scheduled Tribes while its ally, the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), won eight. The CPI(M) had won two seats.
This time, Tipra Motha has replaced the IPFT as the most prominent tribal party as it has apparently won over the support of a large section of tribal voters with Debbarma’s promise of a ‘Greater Tipraland’.
The BJP’s alliance with the IPFT was credited as the major factor behind toppling the Left Front government in the 2018 elections.
With the IPFT failing to deliver on its promise of ‘Tipraland’, a populist demand raised ahead of the 2018 elections, Debbarma started penetrating tribal belts systematically, encashing his royal legacy.
Gradually, he managed to portray himself as the saviour of the indigenous people, who started calling him ‘bubagra (king)’, and reducing the IPFT into a spent force in the tribal-dominated areas.
Debbarma’s plan worked a charm as his newly floated party reduced the IPFT to zero in the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) elections just three months after its formation in April 2022.
The CPI(M), which once had a stronghold in the hills, has also ceded control to Tipra Motha.
In the TTAADC elections, Tipra Motha won 18 seats while the BJP could only manage 10.
Despite several attempts at outreach, neither the ruling BJP nor the opposition CPI(M) could ally with the Tipra Motha for the assembly polls.