Agartala, March 5 (PTI): Mounting pressure on its electoral ally BJP, the Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) on Monday said that it would support the new government from outside if it was not given ‘respectable’ positions in the ministry.
Clarifying the meaning of ‘respectable’ positions, IPFT president N C Debbarma said it meant proportionate representation of IPFT MLAs in the Cabinet and allocation of major departments to them.
He said that the IPFT would also seek a separate block for its MLAs in the Assembly unless it was given ‘respectable’ positions in the state Cabinet.
The BJP and IPFT combine had swept to power in the state winning 43 out of the 59 seats for which elections were held. The BJP had won 35 and IPFT 8 seats.
The election for the Charilam ST reserve constituency was countermanded due to the death of CPI-M candidate before the elections.
“There is an apprehension that we may not be given proper representation in the Cabinet and important portfolios would not be allocated to us as the BJP, the major constituent, alone secured 35 seats,” Debbarma told PTI.
He also said that the BJP and IPFT had fought the elections in alliance with the sole target of defeating the CPI-M and it was achieved.
“Now if we are not given respectable positions, we would support the government from outside,” he said.
Debbarma also demanded that the chief minister should be from among the indigenous MLAs and said it was the tradition of the northeast that a chief minister is selected from the indigenous community.
The BJP leadership did not make any comment on the IPFT’s demand.
State BJP president Biplab Deb said that a joint meeting of 43 BJP and IPFT MLAs will be held in Agartala on Tuesday in which Union minister Nitin Gadkari will be present.
The IPFT came into being in the late 90s and had campaigned for a separate state for tribals by carving out the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) on the plea that the indigenous people had become marginalised due to the huge migration of people to this state after partition of the country in 1947.
The tribal council area comprises two-third of the state’s territory and the tribals form one-third of the population.
The IPFT had forged an alliance with the BJP before the elections on the basis of a common minimum agenda, which included formation of a high-power committee with representations from the central and state governments and the indigenous community to address the problems of the tribals.