New Delhi: Pradyot Debbarma, who resigned as the Tripura Congress chief early Tuesday, alleged that members of former Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s team were being targeted by the “old stalwarts”.
Debbarma, who had been president for less than six months, said he quit due to “unnecessary pressure from the party high command” to accommodate serving “members of the RSS” into the state’s decision-making body.
“Till the time he (Rahul Gandhi) was around, everything was okay,” he said. “Now, the old stalwarts are back in power, and want to run things the way they want. They can’t stand up for anything,” Debbarma told ThePrint.
“The Congress is infiltrated with people from the BJP who want to make money and nothing else in the Northeast. Some of these people are still members of the RSS,” he added.
Run-ins with general secretary Luizinho Faleiro
Sources in the Tripura Congress told ThePrint that the party’s general secretary in-charge of the Northeast, Luizinho Faleiro, was pushing for the induction of BJP’s Agartala MLA Sudip Roy Barman and former BJP leader Subal Bhowmick, who switched to the Congress in February this year, to be appointed to posts as high up as working president.
“When I resisted to appointing some people, Faleiro summoned me to his room and told me to either withdraw my National Register of Citizens petition or resign,” Debbarma said.
He said he had already conveyed his concerns to the party’s interim chief Sonia Gandhi when he met her earlier this month.
“I told the high command to either come out with a statement or replace Faleiro,” he said.
“There is groupism in my state, they have humiliated me. I didn’t join politics to make money, some of these people are career thugs and criminals.”
Faleiro remained unavailable for a comment.
The NRC petition
Debbarma had fallen foul of senior Congress leaders after he filed a petition in the Supreme Court to extend the Assam NRC model to Tripura.
The 40-year-old scion of the erstwhile royal family of Tripura, who has been with the Congress for 18 years now, says his work was hampered by Faleiro.
Debbarma said the NRC petition was a “convenient excuse”, since he filed it 16 months ago as a private citizen, about 10 months before he was appointed the PCC chief. “If they were not okay with it, why would they appoint me chief?” Debbarma asked.
He insisted that the Congress’ stand on an NRC in Tripura contradicted its philosophy to take along all marginalised people.
Posting about his resignation on Twitter, Debbarma said he woke up Tuesday not having “to worry about which colleagues will back stab you, not having to indulge in groupism and backchat… Not having to listen to ‘High Command’ on how to accommodate corrupt people in high positions”.
Asked if joining the BJP was an option, Debbarma said he had been approached but had declined the offer. Sources said the BJP had approached him before the Lok Sabha elections and offered him the chief ministership of Tripura.
“Even today, I’m not going to the BJP. I represent the people of Tripura and will always stand up for their interests,” Debbarma said.
“My father was with the Congress when we (Tripura) merged with India. I am duty-bound to protect the boundaries of Tripura. I have been offered good posts, but power is not the reason I joined politics.”
Not the first Congressman to quit over internal politics
Debbarma is hardly the first Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief to quit over internal politics.
Last month, Jharkhand Congress chief Ajoy Kumar quit after alleging that “criminals were better” than his Congress colleagues. Kumar, a former IPS officer, had joined the Congress in 2014, before taking over as PCC chief in November 2017.
Kumar had also hit out at senior Congress leaders, including current Jharkhand unit chief Rameshwar Oraon, former Union minister Subodh Kant Sahay, former MPs Chandra Shekhar Dubey and Furqan Ansari, and former PCC chief Pradeep Balmuchu, accusing them of trying to “grab political posts for personal benefits” and making “every attempt to bypass the system that has been put in place for the benefit of the party”.