Biplab Deb's removal brings Tripura BJP's internal rift out in the open | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Biplab Deb's removal before 2023 polls brings Tripura BJP's internal rift out in the open

ByPriyanka Deb Barman
May 15, 2022 11:07 PM IST

Newly inducted chief minister Saha, known to be a close aide of outgoing chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb, joined the BJP in 2015. He was made chief of the party’ state unit in 2020. He became Tripura’s first Rajya Sabha MP from BJP this year.

Agartala: The Bharatiya Janata Party’s attempt at course correction in Tripura by replacing Biplab Kumar Deb with Manik Saha, as the new chief minister less than a year ahead of assembly polls in the state, may have created more rifts within the party, people aware of developments said on Sunday.

After resigning from his post, Biplab Deb said that he will focus on strengthening the party’s organisation to ensure the BJP’s return in the 2023 assembly polls. (HT PHOTO.)
After resigning from his post, Biplab Deb said that he will focus on strengthening the party’s organisation to ensure the BJP’s return in the 2023 assembly polls. (HT PHOTO.)

On Saturday within hours of Deb’s resignation and election of Saha as the BJP legislature party leader, cooperative minister Ramprasad Paul was seen shouting and hurling a chair at the party’s senior leaders in the BJP office saying that he will not continue to work for the party.

But Paul took a U-turn on Sunday saying that it was an emotional outburst. “BJP is a democratic party. Everything happens in a disciplined manner. I am here to work for the party,” Paul said.

On Sunday, both Paul and deputy chief minister Jishnu Devvarma arrived at Raj Bhawan after Saha’s swearing-in ceremony was over and defended their delay saying that their presence in the programme didn’t have any special significance.

Jishnu Devvarma and Paul were seen as potential candidates for the CM’s post according to a section of party leaders. People aware of the development said that some BJP MLAs are unhappy that Saha, a Rajya Sabha MP, was chosen for the top post instead of someone from among the legislators.

A Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activist, Paul was inducted into Biplab Deb’s cabinet last August along with Bhagaban Das and Sushanta Chowdhury.

“We are very attached with Biplab Deb ji. But we have to abide by our party’s decision. We, as legislators will continue to do our jobs and we will surely win the 2023 assembly polls,” said BJP’s chief whip Kalyani Roy on Sunday.

BJP MP from Tripura and Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Pratima Bhowmik didn’t comment on how Saha’s appointment could affect the BJP’s chances in the 2023 assembly polls.

Newly inducted chief minister Saha, known to be a close aide of outgoing chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb, joined the BJP in 2015. He was made chief of the party’ state unit in 2020. He became Tripura’s first Rajya Sabha MP from BJP this year. During his initial days in the party, he was panna pramukh in-charge of urban areas and also booth management committee in-charge in the 2018 assembly polls.

“BJP believes in development, development and development. As a chief minister, my primary job is to continue developmental activities done by our former chief minister. I shall carry out whatever responsibilities the central leadership gives me,” said Saha in his first press conference after his swearing in.

After resigning from his post, Deb said that he will now focus on strengthening the party organisation to ensure the BJP’s return in the 2023 assembly polls. There are questions on how the party will accommodate the former CM ahead of the polls.

“I hope our new CM will work as per the guidelines of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I will perform whatever responsibility the central leadership gives me,” said Deb.

Earlier in 2020, BJP in Tripura witnessed differences after a large group of party workers raised slogans of ‘Biplab hatao, Tripura bachao’ to replace Biplab Deb from his chief minister’s post when Vinod Sonkar, who was made the party’s state observer, arrived in Agartala for the first time.

A delegation of BJP legislators led by former party legislator Sudip Roy Barman visited New Delhi also and met party chief J P Nadda to speak against the governance of Biplab Deb. Roy Barman, was dropped from Deb’s cabinet in 2019 and later, he switched over to Congress with his close associate Ashish Saha this February the party that he had left in 2016 to join Trinamool Congress.

After coming to power, Biplab Deb invited controversies for his claims that the internet existed during the time of Mahabharata, mechanical engineers should not opt for civil services etc.

“The decision of changing the chief minister before the end of the government’s term shows the failure of the government. Gimmicks like changing the Chief Minster cannot erase its complete failure. Tripura people will teach BJP a lesson,” a statement issued by the CPM’s apex body Politburo reads.

Already there are disagreements between the BJP and its alliance partner—the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) over organisational matters.

Trinamool Congress state president Subal Bhowmik said, “People have suffered a lot in the four years of the BJP regime. Though BJP has replaced the chief minister, people will never welcome BJP anymore.”

Political experts feel that changing the leader of the state may not leave any impact on the BJP’s target for the 2023 assembly polls though the declaration of the new cabinet is yet to come.

“The change of CM by BJP might not change the party’s fortunes a lot in the next polls. It’s left to be seen who Saha will pick as his cabinet colleagues. One will know what shape differences within the party take after he decides on that,” said veteran political writer S Bhattacharya.

Some experts also expressed doubts over the administrative experiences of the new CM and conflict within a section of legislators became visible with the announcement of Manik Saha as leader of the legislative party.

“There are many other potential candidates in the party. The new chief minister is an educated person but he has no experience on how to run an administration,” said C Dey, a veteran political analyst.

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