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Eye on polls, BJP props up last Tripura king as icon

The BJP which had made no secret of its ambition of capturing power in Tripura, is even using the memory of a king as a prop for its electoral push.

india Updated: Aug 20, 2017 21:06 IST
Priyanka Deb Barman
Priyanka Deb Barman
Hindustan Times, Agartala
Tripura,BJP,King Bir Bikram
BJP observed the 110th birth anniversary of Tripura’s ruler Bir Bikram Kishore Deb Burman of the Manikya dynasty.(HT Photo/Priyanka Deb Barman)

At a time when the Bharatiya Janata Party is under fire for imposing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyay on Assam, the party’s Tripura unit has focussed on a local royal icon with an eye on the 2018 assembly polls.

On Saturday, the BJP went big on scale to observe the 110th birth anniversary of Tripura’s ruler Bir Bikram Kishore Deb Burman of the Manikya dynasty. The party conveyed it was trying to revive the royal history “distorted” during 24 years of Marxist rule and said efforts were on to honour King Bir Bikram with a posthumous Bharat Ratna.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also weighed in with his tweets about the king.

The reign of the Manikya dynasty started with Ratna Manikya in 1280 and ended with Bir Bikram in 1947. His descendents have been titular, and their royal gloss began fading since the first communist government was formed in Tripura in 1978.

The present king, Pradyot Manikya, is a Congress leader.

Sunil Deodhar, the BJP’s state in-charge said the party’s central leadership have been told to award Bharat Ratna to Bir Bikram posthumously.

“We have also placed a demand for naming a road in Delhi after him, since every road there is dedicated to big personalities,” he said, adding that BJP celebrated the king’s birth anniversary across 3,170 booths.

The BJP has also sought naming Agartala Airport after the king and placing his statue in the airport complex. Manik Sarkar’s Left Front government has passed a resolution in the assembly to name the airport after Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.

“The Left Front government never admitted the king’s contribution and tried to distort history. They projected Che Guevara as a youth icon but ignored the Manikya kings. The BJP has celebrated the king’s birthday only to preserve the tradition and culture of the state and not for political reasons,” Jishnu Deb Burman, leader of BJP’s Janajati (tribal) Morcha said.

The BJP also underlined Bir Bikram’s role in promoting education by building many schools. “The Maharaja had himself made a constitution in 1941 saying both the king and the people need to work together for development,” Burman said.

Left Front and Manikyas

According to the BJP, the Marxist government was disrespectful of the state’s history by deciding to rename Ujjayanta Palace, the erstwhile royal residence of the Manikyas in state capital Agartala, to Tripura State Museum. Protests made the government tweak the name to Tripura State Museum, Ujjayanta Palace.

The Left Front government also rubbed the tribal people the wrong way by proposing to name Agartala Airport after Rabindranath Tagore. There is also a similar proposal to convert Agartala’s Raj Bhavan, also called Pushbanta Palace, into a museum and name it after Tagore.

Maharaja Birendra Kishore Manikya, Bir Bikram’s father, had built Pushbanta Palace.

The Tripura kings had built Maharaja Bir Bikram College, Umakanta Academy, Bodhjung Boys’ Higher Secondary School, Maharani Tulsibati Girls’ Higher Secondary School in Agartala, Kirit Bikram Institution in Udaipur, Bir Bikram Institution in Dharmanagar, Radha Kishore Manikya Institution in Kailasahar and many other educational institutions.

Maharaja Radha Kishore Manikya, Bir Bikram’s grandfather, had provided financial assistance to Tagore, Viswa Bharati University at Shantiniketan, Bengal Technical Institute in West Bengal and to scientist Jagadish Chandra Bose.

The Marxist government denied these facts publicly, saying that the Manikya rulers had no development work to their credit.

First Published: Aug 20, 2017 15:28 IST