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NE Autonomous Councils: BJP terms it ‘historic’ move, tribal parties call it ‘jumla’

Tripura's BJP vice president Rampada Jamatia also welcomed the Union Cabinet decision and said upgrading the Tripura ADC was a long-standing demand of his party.

In the face of severe criticism from tribal parties against Union Cabinet approval for Constitutional amendment in upgrading 10 autonomous district councils of Northeast India, Tripura’s ruling BJP has claimed the decision is a ‘historic’ and ‘landmark’ move for tribal development in the region.

Tripura Law Minister Ratan Lal Nath termed the Union Cabinet decision ‘historic’ and ‘landmark’ move and said it would go a long way in fulfilling the aspirations of the indigenous people living in Northeast India. He claimed that after being upgraded to a territorial council, Tripura’s tribal autonomous council would have no dearth of fund flow for development works.

Tripura’s BJP vice president Rampada Jamatia also welcomed the Union Cabinet decision and said upgrading the Tripura ADC was a long-standing demand of his party.

BJP Scheduled Tribe (ST) Morcha earlier moved a demand for renaming the TTAADC as Tripura Tribal Autonomous State Council and providing it additional powers, direct funding etc. When asked if they have veered away from the demand, Rampada Jamatia, who is also president of the party’s state ST Morcha, said name didn’t carry any importance.

“We demanded Tripura State Council. Name doesn’t matter but what matters is that more financial powers would be granted to the Tripura autonomous council,” he said.

Earlier this month, Tripura’s BJP-IPFT government sought a special economic package of Rs. 8372.91 crore for social, economic, cultural and linguistic development of tribal people in the state.

Meanwhile, Tripura’s ruling ally Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) has claimed that a territorial council would not solve problems of tribal people of the state. IPFT spokesperson Mangal Debbarma said his party would stick to demand of ‘Tipraland’, a proposed separate state for tribal communities.

Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra (INPT), another prominent tribal party of the state, claimed the Union Cabinet decision was ‘jumla’ to woo tribal voters in Northeast states before the forthcoming general election.

“This is a jumla. This decision has granted Tripura ADC way less powers than Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC), Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) and Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council (JHADC) of Meghalaya, Karbi Anglong Autonomous District Council and Dima Hasao Autonomous District Council of Assam”, INPT supremo Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl told a press conference this evening.

National Conference of Tripura (NCT) president Animesh Debbarma echoed the sentiment and said the decision is ‘eyewash’ to win over tribal voters ahead of Lok Sabha polls.

However, CPI(M) tribal frontal wing Tripura Upajati Gana Mukti Parishad (TUGMP) chief Jitendra Chaudhury welcomed the Union Cabinet move as ‘apparently positive’ and said he would wait for the details in complete bill which is expected to be placed in the Lok Sabha session starting January 31.

A Press Information Bureau (PIB) statement issued on January 23 said Prime Minister Modi had approved amendment to Article 280 and the 6th Schedule of Indian Constitution, which would significantly improve financial resources and administrative powers of 10 autonomous district councils of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura.

The amendment would mandate the Finance Commission for recommending devolution of financial resources to these 10 autonomous councils apart from introducing provisions of transferring 30 additional subjects to the councils.

As per the Union Cabinet decision, Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) would be renamed as Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous Territorial Council (TTAATC). Similarly, Karbi Anglong Autonomous District Council would be revised as Karbi Anglong Autonomous Territorial Council (KAATC), Dimasa Hasao ADC would become Dima Hasao Autonomous Territorial Council (DHATC), GHADC, KHADC and JHADC in Meghalaya would become Garo Hills ADC would become Gari Hills Autonomous Territorial Council (GHATC), Khasi Hills Autonomous Territorial Council (KHATC) and Jaintia Hills Autonomous Territorial Council (JHATC). Present jurisdiction of these councils extend to more than one district, owing to which the decision was taken, the statement said.

It also said that seats would be increased in all these territorial councils except the one in Tripura.

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