BJP’s Tripura ally IPFT says will contest LS polls

Agartala: Ruling BJP’s junior partner IPFT on Wednesday announced it will contest the next year’s Lok Sabha polls, saying the two sides have not yet taken up the alliance issue for parliamentary polls, an IPFT leader said.

The top leaders of Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), a tribal-based party, on Wednesday met and reviewed the ongoing process of panchayat elections. They also discussed violent incidents that took place on Monday and Tuesday.

“BJP’s state leaders have not held formal discussion with IPFT leaders on seat sharing and other aspects about September 30 panchayat elections,” said IPFT’s Assistant General Secretary Mangal Debbarma.

“They (BJP leaders) also unilaterally announced candidates for the two Lok Sabha seats in Tripura,” IPFT’s Assistant General Secretary Mangal Debbarma told the media after the party meeting.

“We will put up candidates in both the Lok Sabha seats if the central and state BJP leaders do not give us (IPFT) due importance,” he added.

“IPFT’s panchayat candidates could not submit their papers at many blocks as BJP workers obstructed them. We urge the State Election Commission to reschedule the panchayat elections in places where violence prevented IPFT and other opposition candidates from submitting their papers,” said Debbarma.

The teacher-turned tribal leader said BJP workers in many places across the state on Monday and Tuesday attacked the IPFT workers with bombs, sharp weapons, arms and other tools and damaged their vehicles.

A BJP leader countered the allegation by blaming the IPFT cadres for the violence.

IPFT President and Revenue and Fisheries Minister Narendra Chandra Debbarma, who is a number two minister in the nine-member BJP-IPFT coalition ministry, said the violence has cast a shadow over law and order situation in Tripura.

“We would request BJP leaders to hold a formal meeting between the two parties to settle the problems,” said the minister.

The by-elections to a record number of 3,386 seats of gram panchayats (3,207 seats), panchayat samitis (161) and zila parishads (18) were necessitated by large-scale resignations of elected representatives of Left parties and death of some representatives.