GUWAHATI: In the Left-ruled and poll-bound Tripura, the BJP on Wednesday tried to woo the tribals by roping in the support of a tribal – Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu.
The party organized a protest march against the killing of the three tribals allegedly by the supporters of the CPI (M). The march was followed by a rally.
Two months ago, a teenage tribal girl was raped and murdered in chief minister Manik Sarkar’s constituency - Dhanpur. She was a local BJP worker’s sister. Last month, a man named Nishikanta Chakma died during a clash between the BJP and the CPI(M) workers at Chailengta. Earlier, in December, a tribal BJP leader, Chanmohan Tripura, was bludgeoned to death allegedly by the CPI-M members in Dhalai district.
Addressing the rally, which was attended mostly by the tribals, Khandu claimed that only a BJP government could ensure the all-round development of Tripura's tribals.
"It is only Prime Minister Narendra Modi, none of his predecessors, who could understand the myriad problems facing the people of Northeastern states. The tribals in Tripura want the BJP to come to power. They have realised that only a BJP government can deliver progress to them,” Khandu claimed.
However, CPI-M leaders claimed that BJP Arunachal chief minister to reach out to the tribals.
“We don’t find any reasons to be bothered. That they utilized his services (to reach out to the tribals) is their matter. The CPI-M is not that weak in Tripura’s tribal areas to be worried about that,” CPI-M state secretary Bijan Dhar said.
The tribals hold sway in 20 of Tripura’s 60 seats. Of the 20 seats, 19 are held by the Left.
The BJP’s state unit chief, Biplab Kumar Deb, alleged that it was the Left, not the saffron party, which polarised voters. He also alleged that the tribals in Tripura were a deprived lot.
“The tribals are lagging way behind Bengalis when it comes to education, health care, and development. The Left Front government did not take any measures to improve their condition. As they have started realizing it now, they are embracing the BJP,” Deb claimed.
He alleged that 929 women, aged between 13 and 55, were raped in Tripura in the last one year. Nearly 50 per cent of them were tribals. He said the Opposition Congress party has never fought for the tribals’ cause.
After its stunning victories in Assam and Manipur, the BJP has set its sights on Tripura. The party has grown at the expense of Congress. The Left, which has been in power since 1993, also feels that the BJP has taken over the Congress’s space in the state.