AGARTALA, March 17: In a first major setback to the year-old BJP-led coalition government in Tripura, alliance partner IPFT announced their own nominees for the state's two Lok Sabha seats.
The Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT) nominated party President and Revenue Minister Narendra Chandra Debbarma from the Tripura East seat and youth leader Sukhla Charan Noatia from the Tripura West.
The Bharatiya Janata Party is likely to announce their candidates in New Delhi on Saturday night or Sunday morning.
Reacting to its ally's move, BJP spokesman Nabendu Bhattacharjee said: "We would appeal to the IPFT to reconsider their decision and withdraw the candidates otherwise political rivals would get the electoral advantage."
Immediately after the day-long meeting of the IPFT's Central Executive Committee, its highest policy making body, IPFT General Secretary and Forest Minister Mever Kumar Jamatia announced the names of the party nominees.
In a media briefing, Debbarma and Jamatia said that they had long been requesting the BJP to allow the IPFT to contest from Tripura East since it's reserved for tribals.
"As the BJP did not accept our proposal, we have no other alternative to put up candidates in both the Lok Sabha seats. However, we would not withdraw support from the coalition government and the IPFT wants the NDA to form government again at the centre after the current Lok Sabha polls," Debbarma said.
BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav, Deputy Chief Minister Jishnu Dev Varma and Education and Law Minister Ratan Lal Nath held separate meetings with the IPFT leaders here on Wednesday and Thursday, but could not reach an agreement as both sides remained firm at fielding their candidates in the two Lok Sabha seats.
Tripura Chief Minister and state BJP chief Biplab Kumar Deb is now holding meetings with the central party leaders in Delhi to finalise the candidates.
In last year's assembly polls, the BJP-IPFT alliance defeated the Left overwhelmingly, winning 44 seats in the 60-member assembly.
The IPFT, which won eight of the seats, has two ministers in the nine-member ministry.
West Tripura goes to the polls on April 11 in the first phase of the Lok Sabha polls and East Tripura on April 18 in the second phase. Votes will be counted on May 23. - IANS