No question of dividing Tripura, says CM

Last Updated 30 December 2013, 09:09 IST

Tripura's Left Front government would not allow any attempt to divide the northeastern state, Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said Monday, asserting that he would resist any such move with all his might.

"The Congress-led central government, to get electoral benefits, has decided to create Telangana by dividing Andhra Pradesh. Inspired by this decision, a small political party also started demanding a split in Tripura," Sarkar said, while addressing a gathering at Amarpur, 95 km south of state capital Agartala, in southern Tripura.

"Governance has been reaching every village in Tripura. People of all ethnic and religious groups are getting dispassionate services and benefits from the government. None of them have any resentment and there is transparency in running the government," Sarkar said.

The gathering was organised as part of the 14th conference of the Tribal Youth Federation, the tribal youth wing of the state's ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

Sarkar, a CPI-M politburo member, said that the Tripura government has successfully resolved the over 40-year-old terrorism problem in the state but some people are trying to revive militancy for narrow political interests.

The Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT), a tribal political party, has been demanding a separate state, to be carved out of Tripura, by upgrading the Tribal Autonomous District Council (TADC). 

The TADC was formed by amending the Indian constitution in 1985.

The IPFT, which launched a stir for the division of the state on Aug 23 this year, had organised a 72-hour hunger strike in New Delhi Dec 10-13 before holding a meeting with officials of the union home ministry Dec 13.

"We have submitted an eight-page memorandum to home ministry officials and they said that our demand would be considered positively. Talks between the leaders of IPFT and central government would continue," IPFT president Narandra Chandra Debbarma told reporters here Sunday.

The TADC, which has been playing a key role in the socio-economic development of tribals, has jurisdiction over two-thirds of Tripura's geographical area of 10,491.69 sq km.

Tribals constitute a third of Tripura's 3.7 million people.

The IPFT, which first raised the demand for a separate state many years ago, has so far failed to garner support from even the indigenous people.

IPFT leaders have accused the Left Front government of creating the TADC -- a "lame-duck institution" -- having no real powers to ensure the development of the backward indigenous people.

"The fundamental problems of the people have not been solved. Tribals continue to lose their lands. Even the state of the Kokborok language of the indigenous tribal people is miserable," Debbarma said.

He said the tribals were once a majority in Tripura and have been living in the state for more than 5,000 years, but their situation is now precarious.

The ruling CPI-M, the main opposition Congress and its electoral ally, the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura -- also a tribal party -- have strongly opposed the statehood demand.

"A small state like Tripura cannot be divided further. They are merely trying to regain relevance in the state politics by raising such an impractical demand," said CPI-M spokesman and senior party leader Gautam Das.

Congress leader Tapas Dey also said Tripura is one of the smallest states in India and cannot be divided further.

"The socio-economic condition of tribals can be upgraded without forming a new state if there is political will on the part of rulers, and the tribals extend support," he said. 

(Published 30 December 2013, 09:09 IST)

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