Agartala, Aug 29: Tripura’s tribal parties, who have been agitating for a separate State, on Tuesday rejected the Central government’s proposal for setting up a State Autonomous Development Council (SADC).
Ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Front, the Congress and tribal parties, including Indigenous tiolist Party of Tripura (INPT), termed the proposal as “vague”, while the Bharatiya Jata Party (BJP) supported it.
On the other hand, tribal parties like Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) and Twipraland State Party (TSP), who have been agitating for upgrading the existing Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) to a separate tribal State, rejected the Centre’s proposal.
Rejecting the proposal, IPFT President rendra Chandra Debbarma said: “There is no provision in the Indian Constitution to set up an SADC. In no state of India such a council has been set up. The proposal to set up an SADC is akin to hoodwinking the backward tribals.”
“Since 2015, the central government has been talking of amending the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to give more powers to all tribal autonomous bodies in Northeastern States, but that process is yet to begin,” he told the media.
Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram, after a day-long visit to the Left-ruled state, told the media on Monday: “The NDA (tiol Democratic Alliance) government at the Centre does not support the demand for a separate state in Tripura. Instead, it will consider setting up of an SADC if the Left Front government sent a proposal.”
Tripura Tribal Welfare Minister Aghore Debbarma dubbed the union minister’s proposal as “vague”.
“If the NDA government is serious, they can send a proposal to the state government to set up SADC and if the state agrees, then the central government can amend the Constitution accordingly,” the Tripura minister told reporters.
He said that the Tripura government and the state assembly had sent several proposals on a number of occasions to amend the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to confer more power on the TTAADC and other tribal autonomous bodies of the northeastern states.
There are 16 autonomous district councils (ADCs) in Northeast India, facilitating the socio-economic development of tribals, who make up 27-28 per cent of the region’s total population of around 45.58 million.
Of the 16 ADCs, six are in Manipur, three each in Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram and one in Tripura.
Several tribal parties, including the IPFT, have been agitating since 2009 for upgrading the TTAADC to a separate tribal state.
TTAADC has jurisdiction over two-thirds of Tripura’s 10,491 sq.km. area that is home to over 12,16,000 people, mostly tribals.
Ahead of the assembly elections in Tripura, due in February next year, the separate tribal-based State demand has snowballed into a major political issue in the State, the tribals play a crucial political role in the state, with 20 of the 60 assembly seats reserved for the tribals. (IANS)