Tribal upsurge: a new equation in state politics

Mrinal Kanti Banik

The steady emergence of regional political outfits in the state mostly in the areas which were hit ardently by the insurgency and also in the very time when the Lok Sabha elections are almost beating in the door steps, a brand new political equation has brought into surface in view of all the political parties, in the run up to fancy their chances. This has also left the ruling BJP-IPFT coalition with a challenge on how the government having fresh ministerial berths can handle the rage triggered in the tribal areas.

The Position 
The ruling BJP-IPFT coalition was mandated to power with a thought of change. The change that was long awaited and came, most of the people believe, as it was the energetic face of present Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb and the vision of "Modi-fied" India under the firm guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The IPFT, that successfully consolidated the tribal votes with a clarion slogan of "Twipraland" lastly negotiated with the BJP sidelining its uproar for a separate state. Though, it is believed that IPFT was the first party that revived the shade separatism in the state, recently the party showed no interest in joining the stir against Citizenship Amendment Bill but remained supporter of the NRC exercise. 
The NRC factor
The series of trouble took its pace with the call for NRC. The "National Registrar of Citizenship" that was revised in the Assam as under the supervision of the Apex court of India, has prompted the smaller range political parties of the state such as NCT and INPT along with social and student's fronts like TSF, NESO and civil societies to come under a single roof demanding the same for the state.

Depending on a fabricated fact which is somehow pressed to be believed in the indigenous inhabited areas, the previous government had sheltered a large population coming from neighbouring Bangladesh to get electoral benefits, the demand of exercising NRC came to surface. Accordingly, independent petitions were filed in the Supreme Court from both the apolitical and political fronts which was initially the beginning of the emergence of a new equation.
Vociferous protest against CAB 

Well, the rest of the work—giving the smaller powers a greater platform was done by the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016. The Bill that was placed and passed in the Lok Sabha sparked off a huge stir throughout the North East. The Bill seeks to give citizenship to people with certain religious background, persecuted, assaulted or forced to leave their own country after six years of stay in the country instead of twelve years. The Bill also incorporates provisions that claim this will be applicable for certain faction of the population who possess no valid documents. 

This Bill has raised many eyebrows. Experts, intellectuals along with almost all the opposing parties of the BJP described it against the constitution. Some also alleged it is an attempt towards making the country a "Hindu Rastra". In context of Tripura, where the tribal people were already in distress with foreign infiltration the "CAB" added fuel to the fire. Massive rallies, demonstrations and road blockades were staged against the Bill and more interestingly a huge brigade was found standing by opposing the Bill. In fact, a vigorous clash among the security personnel and the protesters took place at Madhabbari in Assam-Agartala road where a road blockade was staged that lifted the stir manifold. Not less than six tribal protesters sustained bullet injuries which was later gave others to join the protests. 
Pradyot factor 

The protests get more intensified when Pradyot Kishore Devebraman, the royal scion of the Manikya dynasty jumped up to the protests leading from the front. The seasoned congressman, who was earlier not so much active in the political scenario of the state overnight shot to the limelight holding a unique slogan of "Puila Jati Ulo Party(Community first party next)". The "Bubagra(King)" in local language claimed serious attention of the tribal people in these protest rallies. The Congress which has recently elevated him to the post of National Secretary of the party also gained some positive grounds as he successfully captured the tribal sentiment that was severely hit by the proposed Bill. All the regional outfits projected him as the leaders which turned the protest exactly in the direction that was needed. 
The political warfare

However, this escalating chain of events landed the political set-up of the state to a very unpredictable situation. The BJP is trying heart and soul to secure almost all the seats of the North Eastern region and this become more significant as the party in power has a serious setback in five mainland Indian states. The opposition CPIM or the Congress is still not gather so much merit after the Assembly polls so that they can literally disturb BJP. But, the upsurge of regional apolitical outfits as a united front is a matter to be paid attention of. Moreover, the CPIM and Congress had also sustained their silent support to these protests which is also a matter to be concerned of. Although, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb till date successfully handled the hard-times with great maturity and nobody could deny that the BJP is the only party that gave North East, the recognition that it deserved but what strategy the party or the governments opt to take a hold on the situation has to be watched of.   

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