Mrinal Kanti Sinha
History repeats itself. In Tripura, in the form of the Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance (Tipra Motha), the faded history is once again on its way to rising above the surface. Seven decades ago, in 1948, a radical organization namely 'Tripura Rayjer Upjati Gana Mukti Parishad' (Bengali for Tripura State Indigenous People's Liberation) came into being with an agenda to fight against the Dewani administration. They succeeded to mobilize the tribal and a section of non-tribal people of Tripura. Latter, the GMP is affiliated with the undivided communist party. The movement of GMP gave the communists a strong mass base in Tripura. Shoulder-carried by the mass base built up by tribal icon Dasarath Deb, the communists later ruled the state for 30 years.
The communists since its inception in Tripura vociferously tried to portray Maharaja Bir Bikram and his heirs as anti-tribal by their deeds and political campaigns. They did it very tacitly for the last seven decades and kept the tribal under hallucination. Right through their regime in Tripura, the communists categorically launched an anti-king campaign whenever they got the opportunity. On the contrary, it is the reality that Birchandra Manikya is known as the 'Architect of Modern Agartala City'. Bir Chandra Manikya and his predecessors' visionary steps gave Tripura a new look during the Manikya dynasty. For the spread of education, the kings built many schools and colleges and roads for communication. Unfortunately, for mere political gain, the communist leaders injected poison against the king and his dynasty and the people were remained hypnotized. Now, the same people, the new generation of tribal people have realized what their forefathers did wrong and how they became a minority on their own land. The new generations have started to realize what blunders their forefathers committed by embracing communism in Tripura. They also have realized that they have become the victims of some 'Migrators' who took shelter in Tripura during the guerrilla movement of the Communists. Those Migrators were the main brain behind the actions or political movements taken up by the Jana Sikha Samiti, a platform intended to, in the guise of spreading education, spread the ideals of the communist party. In a word, what the tribal face today is a handiwork of left leaders whom the Gana Mukti Parishad gave shelter. Maharaja Bir Bikram Manikya Debbarman, the last king of Manikya dynasty, and grandfather of Pradyut Bikram Manikya had a direct collision with the leaders of Jana Siksha Samiti, (Movement for literacy) formed in 1945, the mother organization of GMP under the leadership of Dasarath Debbarma, Prabhat Roy, Susanna Debbarma et al. Bir Bikram in the initial stage did not notice the rise of Jana Siksha Movement and was in totally dark about the hidden agenda of JSS leaders. Later, when he realized the hidden agenda of Jana Sihska Samiti under the shadow of the communist party, he somehow tried to resist the JSS by forming an organization called 'Tripur Sangha'. But, it could not bloom; the demise of Bir Bikram Manikya led to the untimely death of the organization. Tripur Sangha". The tribals were in a dilemma. They raised their voice against the king though they had reverence for the king and moreover there was bondage between the king and the Prajas, the tribals. The communists succeeded in breaking the bond of emotion and sowed hatred among them.
Influence of migrators in Tripura politics:
Ironically, during the left party regime, Dasarath Deb, the main architect of the communist regime in Tripura remained the second man in the cabinet. Sidelining Dasarath Deb, Nripen Chakraborty, the politburo member who came from Kolkata became the head of the communist party. Nripen Chakraborty, came to Tripura when the tribal people were thinking to give up the guerrilla movement. In a nutshell, Nripen was able to eat the butter of the Jana Siksha movement.
The influx of refugees in Tripura: With the partition emerged communal tension in East Pakistan, huge numbers of refugee Bengali Hindus entered Tripura. Nripen Chakraborty, hypnotizing Dasarath Deb, made all arrangements for their settlement in Tripura. Their rehabilitation totally changed the demographic scenario in Tripura. The indigenous people who once constituted 95% of the population in the 1931 census, was reduced to just 31% by 1991. The influx had a severe impact on the lives of tribal people, especially in terms of the alienation of their land and autonomy. The refugees were rehabilitated in the tribal areas and also encroached upon tribal lands. The influx and their rehabilitation gradually made barriers between the two communities.
Controversial lone hydroelectric Damboor project:
In addition to the woes of tribals, around 40,000 tribals were displaced during the construction of the Damboor river project in Amarpur. The displaced families did not get any compensation. By 2007, the dam hardly produced any electricity. The displaced demanded their land to be distributed, the Chief Minister Manik Sarkar rather than arranging the process of redistribution of new char land smelt a conspiracy.
Though the 'Kokborok', the tribal language was introduced as the official 2nd language by the left in 1978, the script was chosen as Bengali. In a later stage, the young generation of Tripuris, the followers of the Christian model raised their voice against the Left. The young Tripuris want to write their language in Roman script.
Royal scion Pradyut Bikram filed litigation for the introduction of the NRC (National Register of Citizens) in Tripura. The Congress high command vehemently objected to this and asked him to withdraw the litigation or step down from the post of state Congress chief. For the interest of indigenous people, he opted for the second one. He immediately turned his social organization 'Tipra Motha" into a political platform
The regional indigenous–based political parties floated different organizations to safeguard the rights of tribal people from time to time. In 1978, under the leadership of Bijoy Hrangkhwal floated a guerilla organization namely Tripura National Volunteers (TNV) to fight for an independent tribal state. The IPFT (Indigenous People's Front of Tripura), the coalition partner of BJP-led government under the leadership of N.C. Debbarma demands the elevation of TTAADC (Tripura Tribal areas District Council) to a full-fledged state 'Twipraland'. Product slightly changed the slogan by adding 'Greater" before Tipraland. 'Greater Tipraland' seeks to include all the Tripuris living within TTAADC and outside TTAADC. Further, it includes Tiprasa living in Assam, Mizoram as well as people living in Bandarban, Chicagoan, Khagrachari and other bordering areas of Bangladesh.
One of the most important factors behind the demolition of the red bastion is Jiten Choudurty, the president of GMP. He is one of the dynamic leaders among tribal leaders as well as in Tripura and a strong contender for the chair of "Chief Minister". Unfortunately, under a sinister design plotted by Manik Sarkar, he was sent to Parliament. The move severely hit the tribal sentiments as they realized the background behind such a politically hazardous move. The tribals, especially supporters of the communist party did not take it well and they, too, hatched a plot to oust the red flag party from the ADC. The move of the CPI-M made the passage for royal scion smooth and accessible.
It is not fair to say something about the Communist party's good deeds. The left introduced ADC under the sixth schedule and also introduced 'Kok Borok' as the official 2nd language in Tripura. In reality, it was merely an ornamental move. They did everything to wipe out the royal history of the kings—renamed Astabal Maidan as Vivekananda Maidan, took careful efforts to make the Tripuris forgetful of their past, installed many images of the figures of Bengal renaissance, totally forgetting to give due honour to any of the illustrious kings of Tripura.
Now, Pradyot, the lone heir of the Manikya dynasty and chief of 'Tipra Motha' with the slogan 'Puila Jati Ulobo Jati', (first community, then party) is bulldozing the red bastion. It seems, the king taking revenge on the Left party for their previous deeds. Once the ADC was regarded as the heartbeat of the communists. But, it is a paradigm shift now. The people who raised voices against the king under the instigation of communists and blamed the king for the pathetic socio-economic condition for tribals, now dream a new dream with royal scion Pradyut Bikram Debarman. The 21stcentury generation of tribals in Tripura has inclined to royal scion shaking off the anti-royal feelings they inherited from their forefathers and communist leaders and gifted TTAADC. For them, no ism works now; they think their demands and dream will be fulfilled by 'Bubagra'.