A Man of Many Talents, But Not of Wise Words
From the beginning of his tenure, Biplab Deb loved courting controversies. Mind you, he did lead the BJP to victory in 2018 elections and since then he has always been projected as a people’s favourite. From claiming that the internet existed during Mahabharata times to saying that mechanical engineers should not become CM, Deb had a penchant for saying things that did not always make sense. The worst was in 2021 when he ‘revealed’ that the former BJP national president Amit Shah planned to establish a BJP government in neighbouring Sri Lanka and Nepal during a party programme.
Deb had said that Shah, during his visit to Tripura, said that he plans to establish the party in neighbouring countries after winning in most of the states in India.
“We were talking in the state guest house when Ajay Jamwal (Northeast Zonal Secretary of BJP) said that BJP formed the government in several states of India, Shah said, now Sri Lanka and Nepal are left. We have to expand the party in Sri Lanka, and Nepal and win there to form a government,” Deb said, quoting Amit Shah.
With just one year to go for elections, the BJP is clear that it does not want to take any chances with Deb’s erratic statements.
A New Face for a New Appeal
Deb has a lot of clout and appeal among the Bengalis of the state, but the same cannot be said about his appeal among the state’s indigenous population. The party lost the Tripura Tribal Autonomous Areas District Council elections last year and has been steadily losing ground to indigenous parties like TIPRA. The BJP wants to be sure about the next year’s elections and Deb’s resignation may just appear to be a “masterstroke” in hindsight.
Writing on the Wall
A few days ago, according to sources, experts appointed by the BJP came for a survey and spoke to a cross-section of the population including political experts, journalists, common people, and political leaders. Clearly, the report filed by BJP’s experts convinced the party leaders that Deb must go.
Losing to TIPRA
It is impossible to talk about Tripura’s political scenario in the past few years without mentioning Pradyot Debbarman, Tripura Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance (TIPRA) supremo and royal scion. Debbarma, through his demand for Greater Tipraland, has united tribal votes like never before, and for the BJP, there is little time left if they wish to change their fortunes in the 2023 elections. Tripura People’s Front (TPF) Supremo Patal Kanya Jamatia joining the BJP was a strong move in this regard, but it seems the party clearly believes more needs to be done. The appointment of Manik Saha as the CM may not do much to garner tribal votes, sure, but at least it gives the party to start afresh.
The TMC Factor
Until a year ago, no one even thought, let alone care, about the Trinamool Congress in Tripura. Sure, the party’s ‘grand’ entry into the state via the Agartala Municipal Elections had zero impact and the party failed to win a single seat. Nevertheless, with leaders like Sushmita Dev (whose father represented both Tripura and Assam) the party is clearly eyeing the 2023 elections. The TMC, much like the BJP, will aim at the Bengali votes and with Deb’s ouster, the party can instead use him to campaign for the party and strengthen its position.
(This article was first published in EastMojo. It has been republished here with permission.)
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