TIPRA Motha and hill politics

The crossed Eye/Sanjib Deb

June 18, 2022, 09:28:53   

TIPRA Motha and hill politics

What is going on in the hilly areas of Tripura is really a matter of concern and reviving the memories of 50's and 60's of Last century when prompted by a political group the tribals created barrier in the hills to prevent the entry of non-tribals. The procedure being followed this time is almost the same but the protagonists of the drama and the targeted population is different. In the last century the anti-royalist Communists were the provocateurs and the non-tribals were the targets. This time the royal scion has appeared as the main provocateur and unfortunately the tribal people of the hills are being instigated to prevent another group of tribals purely for political reasons.
The royal scion Pradyot Bikram launched the royalist party the TIPRA Motha with a specific intention of reestablishing the supremacy of the royal family and polarizing the state on the basis of ethnicity become his main weapon. Like his ancestors Pradyot was never a man of communal mentality but he started to play the ethnic card for the sake of his hidden aspiration of restoring the royal glory. His hidden agenda becomes exposed when he start projecting himself as 'Bubagra' (The King). Initially it was in his party platform only but after winning the election of the TTAADC he started giving it an official recognition by prefixing 'Maharaja' before his name in the press release and advertisements issued by the council.
Despite being an out and out non-communal he started polarizing the state in a mild way on the basis of ethnicity and creating a division by segregating the ADC areas. This was going on smoothly and Pradyot Kishor was emerging as an unchallenged leader of the hilly areas of the state. He also started seeing the hope that his dream of becoming a 'Bubagra' is going to be materialized. But it suffered a setback when the BJP instead of succumbing to his presser started an exercise to get their share of cake.

BJP leaders like Rampada Jamatia or Rebati Tripura were organizing the things in the hills but Pradyot suffered the first shock when the ruling party enrolled Patal Kanya Jamatia in their side. Pradyot knew the strength and organizing capacity of Patal as he used her as his main weapon at the formative stage of the TIPRA Motha and realized that she is the main challenge before him. It is the reason why the TIPRA Motha is repeatedly making her the main target.

The desire to restore the lost glory of one's family is not at all unexpected and can be said a healthy sign. In this way Pradyot Bikram’s aspiration to restore the glory of his family was a welcome initiative. Restoring the glory of the Manikya Dynasty is an aspiration of the entire population of the state, irrespective of tribal and non-tribal. But it got corrupted when Pradyot started dreaming to be the Bubagra of the state. He appears to have failed to understand that the time has changed.  BJP's overemphasis on the role of the Maharaja's in the development of Tripura might have misguided Pradyot.

It is well known that the BJP or its parent organization the RSS have a weakness towards the Maharaja's across the country. But that was not the only reason for BJP's over emphasizing the role of Maharaja's in the development of Tripura. BJP's political calculation of denigrating the contributions of their political rivals the Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had worked behind this. These are the two parties that ruled the state for more than seven decades since the state's merger with India and many of the developments the state witnessed were performed during their rule.  BJP found over eulogizing the Maharaja’s as the most useful weapon to overshadow the contributions of their political rivals which Pradyot might have failed to understand.

TIPRA Motha's victory in the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) election might have further aggravated his aspirations. He considered it as a total victory which was actually not. In the election TIPRA Motha own only 18 seats while their main rival the BJP own 10 seats. Here one must note that the BJP achieved this success contesting only in 11 seats while their alliance partner the IPFT failed to win a single seat contesting in 17 seats. Percentage wise also the TIPRA Motha and its alliance partner the INPT (subsequently merged with TIPRA Motha) got 48.05 percent vote while the BJP and IPFT combine together got 29.34 percent. Among others the CPI(M) also got 12.46 percent votes.

It indicates that the influence of TIPRA Motha was not overwhelming in the hills where the BJP also have a considerable share. BJP maintained a low key in the face of the initial euphoria of Motha's victory. Recently, the BJP started flexing its muscles and organizing their party in the hills that made the TIPRA Motha suspicious about their future. It reacted violently in places. What added fuel in the fire is the threat by Pradyot Bikram that his people will prevent BJP's entry in the hills and the counter threat by the BJP leader and MP Rebati Tripura that he will keep Pradyut confined in the Rajbari. The series of incidents of burning and insulting the effigies of the leaders are the outcome. It is good that the BJP President and the Chief Minister Dr Manik Saha and the TIPRA Motha Chief Pradyot Bikram has made appeal to their supporters to refrain from violence.  Now, it is the task of the leaders to effectively execute their instructions and ensure that a democratic atmosphere prevails in the hills. Pradyot Bikram Kishor has a special responsibility in this matter. Maintaining 'Thansa' is must for every nation but the leader must keep it in mind that it does not create fear in the mind of others. The tradition he is representing must not be distorted.