Gorkhaland-type demand echoes in T’pura

The Telegraph

Agartala, April 13 (The Telegraph): The BJP’s support for separate Gorkhaland seems to have opened a Pandora’s box with the demand for a separate state encompassing the entire Autonomous District Council (ADC) areas in Tripura snowballing into a major issue in the election campaign for the state’s two Lok Sabha seats.
The BJP in Tripura had formed an alliance with the National Conference of Tripura (NCT) before announcing its candidate. State NCT chief and former MLA Animesh Debbarma, who commands a following among the state’s tribal youths, elicited an assurance from the state BJP leadership and the party’s central observer that at the national level BJP would support the NCT’s longstanding demand for a separate state based on the ADC areas which cover 68.10 per cent of the state’s geographical territory.
In spite of squeamishness from a section of the state BJP leadership, Debbarma had told a joint news conference: “The purpose of giving autonomy to the tribals through ADC has failed because of non co-operation from successive state governments and now the lone option left for tribals is a separate state.”
Debbarma’s statement did not create a stir because, for all his personal popularity, his party lacks a proper political base. But the issue has heated up over the past week with recently revived Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) continuing a campaign in tribal-dominated areas in favour of a separate state based on ADC.
IPFT candidates Benoy Debbarma in West Tripura and Mebar Kumar Jamatya in East Tripura have touched a raw nerve among the tribals. The IPFT had been formed in 1997 with alleged clandestine links with banned NLFT militants. There was a furore in state politics in 2000 when the IPFT, backed to the hilt by the NLFT, came to power in ADC, defeating the Left Front through the NLFT’s rigging at gun point.
The party then merged with the Tripura Upajati Juba Samity in 2002 to form the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT) but an underlying tension involving erstwhile leaders of the IPFT and the TUJS always remained a thorn in the INPT. Last month, the erstwhile IPFT leaders had broken away from the INPT and revived the old entity with the demand for a separate state for tribals based on the ADC areas.
The demand and campaign on the issue by the IPFT has triggered a controversy as PCC president Samir Ranjan Barman has dismissed the demand as “totally unrealistic and impossible”. CPM state secretary Bijan Dhar has also firmly opposed the demand saying “we strongly oppose this, we want further empowerment of the ADC but not a new state which is impossible within Tripura’s small geographical limits”.
 
BJP supports NCT’s demand 
 
Agartala, April 13 (UNI): After supporting the demand of Gorkhaland carved out of the West Bengal, the BJP has accepted a similar stance of its tribal ally National Conference of Tripura(NCT) for a separate state encompassing the entire Autonomous District Council(ADC). Though both ruling CPI(M) in Tripura and opposition Congress were opposed to the demand of a new state by cutting Tripura, the BJP had assured NCT of considering the issue of more power to the ADC if their government came to power at the Centre after the election.
NCT chief and former MLA Animesh Debbarma, who commands a following among the state’s tribal youths, elicited an assurance from the state BJP leadership and the party’s central observer that the party would support NCT’s longstanding demand for a separate state based on the ADC areas which cover 68.10 per cent of the state’s geographical territory. 

2 Responses

  1. Tripura and Darjeeling are different cases altogether. Tripura it is illegal Bangladeshis n Darjeeling illegal Nepalis encroaching our land.

  2. The state reorganization is ultimately a political decision striking the right cord of regional inhabitants and peaceful coexistence within federation of India. Also, historical context, economic feasibility are important parameters for consideration. While I do agree that the Nepali speaking residents of Darjeeling are by far alienated with the rest of Bengal, but there are several facts look into creation of separate state:
    1. Historically Darjeeling was part of Sikkim until it was first taken over by Nepalese Kingdom and subsequently by the British United Kingdom, both of them facilitating settlement of Nepalese in tha region. By this count, Sikkim needs to be part of consultation.
    2. Economically, both Sikkim and Darjeeling was intrinsically far more attached to Indian Bengal, than rest of the country.
    3. From Indian perspective, the “Chicken’s Neck Region” in present North Bengal, is of utmost strategic importance as it links to Nepal, North Eastern States, Tibetan China(via Sikkim) and Bangladesh.
    4. The popular view of rest of West Bengal must also be taken into account. Already Bengalis have gone through huge displacement as part of only two states in India(other being Punjab) gone through trauma of partition on communal lines. Bengalis in India today remains separated in states of West Bengal, Tripura, Assam, Jharkhand, Orissa and union territory of Andaman & Nicobar Islands forming 8% of Indian population. Should Bengal be divided on cultural consideration, demand of Greater Bengal cannot be ruled out forming uneasy relationship of The Bengalis with Indian Union. Remember among Indian communities only Bengalis have a soverign state in form of Bangladesh. So, as native Indian Bengali, my suggestion is to take a assimilative approach for the situation rather than risking pan-Bengali nationalism. While I perfectly agree with dienchantment of the Gurkhas, I feel both West Bengal and Gurkha nationalists must take a cohesive approach like maximum possible devolution. As far as creation of other states, I am hopelessly unaware of the circumstances under which the demands are being placed and not in a position to put forth my comments on them.

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