The Tripura Bharatiya Janata Party has finalised the seat-sharing deal with old ally Indigenous People's Front of Tripura for the February 16 assembly election, giving the junior partner in the coalition five constituencies, four less than what it got in the 2018 polls.
Announcing this in Agartala on Saturday, Chief Minister Manik Saha said that the BJP will contest in 55 constituencies in its bid to return to power in the northeastern state which has a 60-member assembly for the second time in a row.
In New Delhi, the BJP released, in two instalments, the names of 54 candidates, leaving out the prestigious Agartala constituency which is being held by the sole Congress MLA Sudip Roy Barman, who won the seat in a by-poll a few months after quitting the saffron party.
The party fielded 11 women including Union Minister Pratima Bhoumik and dropped four MLAs.
"Today (Saturday) we have finalised the seat-sharing deal with our old ally IPFT for the next month's Assembly elections and gave it five seats. We vowed to fight the elections on the basis of the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) for all-round development of the indigenous people," Saha said.
The saffron party contested the 2018 assembly election together with the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura and the alliance partners fielded candidates in 51 and 9 seats respectively.
The BJP-IPFT combine swept to power in the state replacing the 25-year-old Left Front regime winning 44 seats in the 60-member assembly.
The BJP bagged 36 seats and the IPFT eight.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist, which is the major party of the Left Front, is contesting the state elections in alliance with the Congress this time.
"Today's deal is the testimony of the BJP's tradition of not betraying its allies irrespective of their strength," Saha said.
Senior IPFT leader Sukla Charan Noatia, who was present at the press meet, said the party will contest in the five seats in association with the BJP.
Party president Prem Kumar Reang has approved the decision of seat sharing, he said.
Noatia said that for the past five years, the party did not raise the Tipraland state demand because of good works done by the BJP-led governments at the Centre and the state for the indigenous people.
The IPFT had demanded formation of a separate state carving out the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council from Tripura.
The TTAADC area is two-third of the state territory, and is the home to the tribals, who constitute one-third of Tripura's population.
Out of the eight IPFT MLAs, at present the party has only four as three parted ways and joined Tipra Motha, another political party. The fourth, party supremo NC Debbarma, died on January 1.
In New Delhi, the BJP initially released a list of 48 candidates and, after a few hours, brought out another, containing the names of six nominees.
State BJP president Rajib Bhattacharjee said, "The tickets were given by the party's parliamentary board after analysing the performance of the ministers, MLAs and leaders. The party's state leadership has no hand in the process."
Former chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb, now a Rajya Sabha MP, did not feature in any of the lists, and Bhattacharjee will contest from Town Bardowali, the constituency earlier held by the former.
The BJP replaced Deb with Manik Saha as the chief minister in May last year. The ex-CM later became a member of the Rajya Sabha.
Pratima Bhoumik lost the 2018 election to four-time Chief Minister Manik Sarkar from the Dhanpur seat which has a sizeable number of minority community voters. A year later, she became a Lok Sabha MP and the minister of state for social justice and social empowerment.
Bhoumik will again contest from Dhanpur.
On dropping four MLAs, Chief Minister Manik Saha said, "It happens every time and it is not a big issue."
The last date for filing nominations is January 30. The polling will be held on February 16 and counting will take place on March 2.