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BJP turns to Tripura royalty with aim to fortify its reign in the Northeast

The Manikya family still holds a lot of sentimental connect with the Tripura’s indigenous populace.

india Updated: Aug 26, 2018 12:42 IST
Priyanka Deb Barman
Priyanka Deb Barman
Hindustan Times, Agartala
Manikya dynasty,Tripura,Biplab Kumar Deb
Tripura chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb has also penned a book on the last ruler of Manikya dynasty. (Sushil Kumar/HT File Photo)

The Manikya dynasty remains high on the agenda of Tripura’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government with chief minister Biplab Deb penning a book on the state’s last ruler, Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Deb Barman, highlighting his vision for a modern Tripura.

According to government officials, the book was supposed to be released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on August 19 on the 110th birth anniversary of the last king from the Manikya dynasty.

But it was postponed due to the death of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The book would be published in four languages --- Bengali, Hindi, English and Kokborok.

“The new schedule for release of the book is yet to be decided,” said Sanjay Mishra, officer on special duty to the chief minister.

Deb’s book is just one example of how the BJP continues to woo the Manikyas, the family which still holds a lot of sentimental connect with the northeastern state’s indigenous populace.

As promised ahead of the elections, soon after coming to power by defeating the CPI(M), the state government renamed Agartala airport after Bir Bikram and announced that stories on the Manikya dynasty would be included in history books of government-run schools from the next academic year.

Last week, Deb also launched a gold coin on Bir Bikram on his birth anniversary in Agartala.

During the event, the CM pointed out how Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin had been promoted for two decades by the previous Left government while the good deeds of the Manikya rulers were not highlighted.

“Bir Bikram had provided shelter and food to the people of his state and also those who migrated from Bangladesh. He had a big role in promoting education and development. But attempts were made to sideline him and promote Lenin and Stalin,” Deb said.

BJP leaders said the Manikyas had not found favour with Marxist governments during the past four decades. They had renamed Ujjayanta Palace, the royal abode, as Tripura State Museum. After a series of protests, the name was changed to Tripura State Museum, Ujjayanta Palace.

The CPI(M) has, however, dismissed the charge of sidelining the Manikyas. “The Left government never suppressed the Manikya ruler’s deeds. We didn’t change the name of a degree college founded by Bir Bikram. The state museum still has mention of Ujjayanta Palace. But in a democracy, we can’t worship monarchy,” said senior CPI(M) leader Pabitra Kar.

“We are witnessing the Manikyas being recalled in the new regime. Though all political parties do vote politics, the initiative of giving priority to royal history is positive,” said Swapan Bhattacharya, a social activist and historian.

From Saturday, a two-day photo exhibition on the late king’s life would be organised at Ujjayanta Palace, the state museum, in collaboration with the information and cultural affairs department.

The BJP’s efforts to woo the Manikyas started much before the assembly polls with the Bharat Ratna being awarded to Bir Bikram posthumously and a Delhi road being named after him.

First Published: Aug 26, 2018 07:24 IST