Ever since he was elected as the first non-BJP chief minister of Tripura in 2018, Biplab Kumar has been known better for his opinion on various matters – from the Mahabharata to beauty pageants to Tagore.
In his latest gaffe, the Tripura CM compared Bengalis with Jats and Punjabis, saying that while Bengalis were widely considered intelligent, the latter were ‘less brainy’ but physically strong and buff.
He has since apologised for his remarks, stating that he had many Punjabi and Jat friends and he was merely voicing the opinions of others, and not his own.
This is not the first time that the CM has been caught in an uncomfortable situation. He was recently heard mentioning incorrect information about the COVID-19 tally in Tripura’s neighbouring states.
While his recent comments on Punjabis and Jats have created a buzz, with the Congress party demanding an investigation and apology, here is a throwback to some of the times Deb offered his ‘insight’ in his first 100 days as the chief minister of Tripura.
Biplab Putting the Myth in Mythology
While addressing a regional workshop on computerisation of the Public Distribution System in Agartala on 17 April, the 46-year-old BJP leader claimed the internet existed during the times of Mahabharata, and using the technology Sanjay narrated what transpired in the war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas to the blind king Dhritarashtra.
Later, Deb went a step further to defend his comments in the face of criticism saying, “Narrow-minded people find it tough to believe this. They want to belittle their own nation and think highly of other countries. Believe the truth. Don’t get confused and don’t confuse others.”
Biplab the Beauty Pageant Judge
Well, if you thought the Mahabharata jibe was an off-the-cuff comment, then you were wrong, because this time Deb truly went all out. In a display of blatant sexism, Deb questioned the rationale behind crowning Diana Hayden as Miss World in 1997 and claimed that international beauty pageants were a farce.
Biplab the Career Counsellor
After sharing his expertise on Indian mythology, beauty standards and the fashion industry, Deb, with his infinite wisdom, gave some career advice to engineers.
“Earlier, arts graduates use to appear for the civil services examination and now, medical and engineering graduates are also joining the services,” Deb said.
To drive his point home, he cited the examples of Sachin Tendulkar and Kapil Dev. "People take names of special players such as Sachin Tendulkar and Kapil Dev. Dev's bowling was good, but batting was also excellent. This is the age of specialty. All-rounders are accorded highest priority," Deb said.
Biplab the Economist
Was this Deb’s attempt of one-upping Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pakoda comment?
Biplab the Enforcer
The Tripura CM has also tried teaching the importance of hygiene and keeping our nails trimmed. However, he chose a weird set of words to make his point.
In a video from 30 April, Deb could be heard saying, “Around 8 am, a vegetable vendor brings bottle gourd to the market. However, it gets rotten by 9 am due to repeated digging of nails by customers. This should not happen with my government.”
Biplab the Historian
Remember those ‘almost politically correct redneck’ memes from 2012, Deb’s last noted gaffe fits into that.
In an almost factually accurate statement, Deb mixed up history with his nationalistic feelings.
"Rabindranath Tagore was a world famous poet. He is such a great man that he rejected the Nobel Prize opposing the British rule," the chief minister said after inaugurating the Rajarshi festival at Bhubaneswari temple in Agartala on 11 May.