GUWAHATI: As Left-ruled Tripura remains on the edge for nine days following an indefinite road and railway blockade enforced by a tribal-majority party demanding a separate state, the state’s ruling CPI-M sniffed the hand of the BJP in the unrest.
The CPI-M alleged that the saffron party was trying to create a Manipur-like situation in order to gain political mileage ahead of next year’s Assembly elections. BJP workers on Tuesday laid siege to the official residence of chief minister Manik Sarkar in protest against his government’s failure to remove the blockade, enforced by the NC Debbarma faction of Indigenous People’s Front Tripura (IPFT).
Some 300 BJP workers gheraoed Sarkar’s residence since early morning. The CM, who also holds the portfolio of home, was at home.
“We took the action as the government failed to restore normalcy. Our protests will continue till the blockade is withdrawn,” BJP state president, Biplab Deb, said. Even as the blockade continued, the Congress called a 12-hour Tripura bandh on Wednesday against the state government’s failure to remove the blockade. CPI-M state secretary, Bijan Dhar, alleged that the BJP was trying to create a law and order situation in Tripura “to try and grab power through the backdoor”.
“The BJP is with the NC Debbarma faction of IPFT. While the BJP opposes the demand of separate state, it favours Article 244 A of the Constitution which is autonomous state or state within the state. How can there be a state within the state?” asked Dhar. He said union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju was scheduled to hold a meeting with some IPFT leaders in New Delhi on Tuesday but it was cancelled for reasons not known to Tripura government.
A delegation of the IPFT held a meeting with senior Tripura government officials on Sunday but it failed. The delegation told the officials that any decision on the blockade would be taken by their leaders who were camping in the national capital. Dhar said that there was no crisis of essential commodities as the traders were using alternate roads to bring supplies. The blockade is on National Highway 44 and railway, he said.
Tripura has 60 Assembly seats and in over 30 of them, the tribals are the virtual kingmakers. With the polls just months away, a resurgent BJP is trying to polarise the tribals. To cosy up to them, BJP national president Amit Shah had dined at the house of a tribal during his visit to Tripura two months ago. The Left, which accounts for 51 seats, has been in power since 1993.
After its stunning victories in Assam and Manipur, the BJP has set its sights on Tripura. The party has grown at the expense of the Congress. The Left, which has been in power since 1993, too feels that the BJP has virtually taken over the Congress’s space. “Yes, in terms of mobilisation, BJP is next to us. Congress is eroding,” Dhar said. Tripura’s six rebel Trinamool Congress MLAs and a rebel Congress MLA are likely to join the BJP any day after July 22.