TIPRA Motha chief meets Amit Shah, says interlocutor to examine party's demand
The BJP kept three ministerial berths vacant in anticipation of TIPRA Motha joining the government but Debbarma said it would first examine what the Centre comes up with.
GUWAHATI: The Centre will appoint an interlocutor to study and examine TIPRA Motha’s demand for a "constitutional solution" to the issues and problems of Tripura’s 14 lakh tribals.
An assurance towards this effect was made during a meeting between Union home minister Amit Shah and TIPRA Motha chief Pradyot Bikram Manikya Debbarma, party leader Bijoy Hrangkhawl and its 13 newly-elected MLAs in Agartala on Wednesday. BJP president JP Nadda, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and his Tripura counterpart Manik Saha were also present.
"We have been assured that an interlocutor will be appointed and the solution to our constitutional demand initiated within the next few days. We expect something positive within three months," Debbarma told TNIE. He made it clear TIPRA Motha will not join the BJP-led government for now but will extend issue-based support to it.
"We have remained united and committed and have not discussed anything for our personal positions but the plight of 14 lakh people who live in (TIPRA Motha-ruled) TTAADC (Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council) areas," the royal scion said.
The BJP kept three ministerial berths vacant in anticipation of TIPRA Motha joining the government but Debbarma said it would first examine what the Centre comes up with and "if it is to our satisfaction, we will consider it when the time comes."
The BJP has already rejected the "Greater Tipraland" statehood demand. Asked what exactly TIPRA Motha is demanding, he said, "Let this (constitutional solution) be decided by the interlocutor. The poor tribals are going through a lot of problems and hardships. They have expectations from us and we have to deliver."
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The meeting followed Manik Saha’s swearing-in as the chief minister for the second time in less than a year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, JP Nadda and the chief ministers of Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim were among the dignitaries who were present.
Saha, the 70-year-old dental surgeon-turned-politician, first donned the CM’s mantle in May last year after Biplab Kumar Deb had resigned from the post. Saha was then serving as a member of the Rajya Sabha. Before becoming an MP, he served BJP as its Tripura chief.
Eight others were sworn in as ministers on Wednesday. They are Ratan Lal Nath, Pranajit Singh Roy, Santana Chakma, Sushanta Chowdhury, Tinku Roy, Bikash Debbarma, Sudhangshu Das and Sukla Charan Noatia. Roy, Debbarma, Das and Noatia are new faces. Chakma is the only woman in the ministry, while Noatia is from BJP ally Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT).
The state has 60 Assembly seats and a maximum of 12, including the CM, can be inducted into the ministry. The BJP had bagged 32 seats, IPFT one, TIPRA Motha 13, CPM 11 and Congress three.
Congress and Left parties had forged a seat-sharing deal to stop the BJP’s juggernaut but failed. They boycotted the swearing-in-ceremony in protest against alleged statewide violence "unleashed by BJP supporters and goons after the results were declared on March 2."