Agartala: The slogan of ‘chalo paltai’ (let’s change) is catching on in tribal Tripura, and that’s a good news for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The tagline is part of party’s emerging template for the northeast. Tribals make up 31% of Tripura’s population, which also has a large number of Bengalis.
Using symbolism to strike a chord with the tribal voters, the BJP decided to modify its political icon, Bharat Mata. She’s not dressed in a sari, but is dressed as a Reang in Reang regions, as a Chakma in areas where that tribe is prominent, and so on.
Stating that Bharat Mata “can be dressed in all Indian attires”, former RSS leader and BJP’s Tripura in-charge, Sunil Deodhar, says it can be an effective way to counter the alienation that these tribes feel.
Though limited to social media for now, he plans to have 19 depictions of Bharat Mata in Tripura, and 300 across the northeast. The party’s poll promises include employment opportunities for every household, free smartphones for youngsters, accessible drinking water and greater national visibility and greater representation for tribals in the party and government.
As a sort of assurance, the BJP has allied with the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), a party founded in 2009 to represent the interests of the state’s tribal population. Though its demand for a separate Tipraland state alienated it from the Bengali population, the IPFT looks set to be a more serious contender this time after aligning with the BJP.