Guwahati/Delhi: Manik Saha, the Tripura BJP President, and Rajya Sabha MP, was elected as the Chief Minister of Tripura on Saturday following Biplab Kumar Deb’s resignation.
Saha, who is a dentist by profession, had won the lone Rajya Sabha seat from Tripura earlier this year.
Saha, according to party sources is considered someone who can lead the government and bring warring factions together. “He also played a crucial role in the Tripura civic polls and the way Trinamool Congress (TMC) and TIPRA Motha (Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance) have been giving us tough competition. It was important to have someone who can take everyone on board,” a BJP leader, who didn’t want to be named said.
In the civic body polls held last year, the BJP had won with a landslide victory winning 329 out of 334 seats.
Lack of party unity
“This is not something that has shocked anyone as this was in the offing for quite some time. Many had expected it much earlier. Two sitting MLAs Sudip Roy Barman and Ashish had quit their seat owing to issues with him,” said a senior BJP leader.
At the time of his resignation, Barman in a veiled reference to the Chief Minister was reported to have said, “Everything depends on the wishes of one person and a few bureaucrats.”
With assembly polls due next year in Tripura, the BJP both in the state and centre was not confident of Biplab Kumar leading it to victory, said another leader, which prompted the central leadership to take the final decision.
“He (Biplab Kumar Deb) can’t be a war general. He has embarrassed the party so many times through his irresponsible comments. Still, the central leadership gave him enough time to reform and transform something he could not,” said a second BJP leader.
According to a senior BJP leader, the move is also being seen as an ultimatum by the central leadership that it can take such decisions if required in poll-bound states. “The chief ministers need to perform and also need to take everyone along. This is the message that has come from Uttarakhand, Gujarat, and now Tripura.”
Deb at centre of many controversial statements
During his tenure, Deb had often courted controversies with his remarks. In September last year, Deb had told bureaucrats in the state to not worry about contempt of court cases as he “controls the police.”
In 2020, Deb was forced to apologise for his remarks where he said that Jats and Punjabis are physically strong but less brainy and Bengalis are known for their intelligence.
Meanwhile, a party leader from the state told ThePrint that Deb had been unable to bring the warring factions together. “Not only among the state unit leaders and the MLAs he did not exude confidence amongst the public too. He was not able to command everyone’s respect. There have been cases where the party has fought the election under a CM but changed after winning but in this case, they were not even sure of him being an acceptable face,” he said.
“For any crisis in the state or within the government, he used to run to the central leadership. This is not how chief ministers are supposed to function. With 2023 in mind the leadership has taken this decision which gives ample time to the new CM to set the house in order,” the leader added.
After submitting his resignation letter to Tripura Governor Sarswati Devi, Deb said, “I was appointed by Home Minister Amit Shah as the CM of the state and I started working under his and the Prime Minister’s direction. Keeping in mind the 2023 elections, for that the party wants to bring in responsible party workers. So naturally, if there’s a party only then there can be a government.”
Union Minister Bhupender Yadav, who is in Agartala, told reporters, “Biplab Deb has resigned to increase his role in party’s organisational activities and further his position in the party.”
(Edited by: Manoj Ramachandran)