Agartala: After a regional party blocked the National Highway and lone railway line in Tripura for more than 10 days demanding a separate state for tribals, another tribal entity on Wednesday threatened to launch an agitation over the same demand.
"We will soon launch a statewide agitation to press for upgrading the TTAADC (Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council) to a separate state for the tribals," Twipraland State Party (TSP) President Chitta Ranjan Debbarma told IANS.
He said: "We will organise rallies in all the 23 sub-divisions of Tripura on August 23. To make the rallies a success, we have started camping from today (Wednesday) across the state, especially in the tribal-dominated areas."
Creating havoc, a tribal party -- the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT) -- blockaded National Highway-8, the lifeline of Tripura, and the lone railway line in the state for 10 days from July 10, causing serious shortage of essential items, including foodgrain and fuel.
After the intervention of the state and central governments, besides state Governor Tathagata Roy, the IPFT withdrew the blockade on July 20.
Debbarma, a former civil service officer of Tripura government, alleged that the IPFT withdrew the blockade and cheated the tribals on their demand for a separate state.
"The IPFT leaders, including its President Narendra Chandra Debbarma, had announced before the withdrawal of the blockade that the central government has accepted the demand for a separate state. That was a completely false announcement," the TSP leader said.
Both IPFT and TSP are parties recognised by the Election Commission of India.
The IPFT has been agitating since 2009 for a separate state to be carved out by upgrading the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council, which has jurisdiction over two-thirds of Tripura's 10,491 sq.km. area and home to over 12,16,000 people, mostly tribals.
Allmost all political parties, including the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front, the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other tribal parties, including the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura, have rejected the separate state demand, saying it is not practical to divide the small state.
Political analyst Tapas Dey said the tribal parties -- IPFT and TSP -- had started mounting pressure on the governments aiming to widen their base among the tribals before the next assembly elections, due in February next year.
Tribals, who constitute a third of Tripura's around four million population, play a crucial role in the state's electoral politics. Of the total 60 seats in the state assembly, 20 are reserved for tribals.