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BJP is the antitheses of Tripura’s pluralism: Brinda Karat

Aditya Menon | Updated on: 6 February 2018, 11:54 IST

The Left Front is sparing no effort to preserve its citadel Tripura in the face of a rising Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).  Several national leaders and all the state leaders of the Left Front constituents are constantly on the campaign trail. Communist Party of India (Marxist) Politburo member Brinda Karat has been travelling across Tripura for the past few weeks, addressing public meetings. Catch spoke to Karat after her meeting at Mandaibazar constituency in Tripura West. A constituency reserved for Scheduled Tribes, Mandaibazar falls under the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTADC).

Karat says that her focus over the past few weeks has been to address small meetings in the Assembly seats that lie in the TTADC. A former secretary of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), Karat attaches special focus to women in her public meetings. In Tripura’s tribal areas, women play an important role in mobilising support for all the political parties. They even take positions that are at odds with the male members of their respective parties. The most important example of this is the decision of the women’s wing of the Indegenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) to put up 20 candidates in the state independent of the party’s decision to contest just nine seats as BJP’s junior partner.

Throughout her address in Mandaibazar and Patnipara on Sunday as well as in her conversation with Catch, Karat attacked the IPFT and BJP for threatening the stability of Tripura. She says that women in particular are firm that they do not want to go back to the era of instability in Tripura, referring to the turbulence of the 1980s and 1990s.

She also criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that “only Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah has prospered while lakhs of youth remain unemployed”.

Here are a few excerpts from the conversation with Brinda Karat:

Aditya Menon: Do you think this is the Left Front’s toughest battle in Tripura in the past two-and-a-half decades?

Brinda Karat: As a rule, we don’t underestimate anyone. The BJP appears to have succeeded in occupying the space left by the Congress in Tripura. But we are confident that this won’t harm the Left Front in any way. The work we have done speaks for itself.

AM: What do you think of the BJP’s campaign in the state?

BK: The BJP has no roots in Tripura. It is entirely relying on leaders and cadres imported from the Congress. Their campaign is based on opportunism. They have no vision for Tripura. However, I must say that the BJP has pumped in huge money in their Tripura campaign. This is unprecedented. Such a show of money has never happened before in any election in Tripura. They are trying to make up for their lack of cadres by throwing in more money.

AM: And its slogan Chalo Paltai (Let’s bring change)…

BK: I want to know what is that they want to change. Do they want to change Tripura’s culture of tolerance and pluralism? Do they want to change our policies that are aimed at the welfare of the poor? Do they want to do away with the rights of farmers, tribals, women, minorities, etc?

AM: Why have you been focusing specifically on the tribal-dominated constituencies?

BK: The BJP’s hypocrisy is most blatant in the tribal areas. On one hand, it makes big promises to the people of Tripura, on the other hand it goes allies with an extremist party like IPFT which has only spread violence and instability in the state.  Look at the murder of journalist Shantanu Bhowmick. Or the protests  and blockade by IPFT last year, which harmed the people. It is quite clear that IPFT’s blockade had BJP’s blessings as well.  The IPFT too needs to be called out for its alliance with BJP. How can it call itself “indigenous” and align with a party that talks of Aryavarta and Gharwapsi.

AM: BJP feels Narendra Modi’s campaigning will turn the tide decisively against the Left Front. What do you have to say about that?

BK: Modi’s popularity is on the wane. The Gujarat elections and the recent bypolls in Rajasthan have shown that BJP’s support is reducing with each passing day.

AM: What are the main issues at stake, according to you, in this election?

BK: This is a battle for Tripura’s pluralism. This is a state where people who speak different languages, belong to different religions and caste groups, reside. It is a state where the government pursues policies for the welfare of all citizens. BJP is the antithesis of Tripura.  

First published: 6 February 2018, 11:54 IST