Updated: January 5, 2022 8:54:52 pm
Tripura opposition leader Manik Sarkar on Wednesday launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his comments against the erstwhile Left Front government, and said the BJP-led “double engine” government had got its tyres punctured and fallen face down.
During his visit to the poll-bound state, the Prime Minister on Tuesday said the “double engine” government model of the BJP ruling at the Centre and states had accelerated development of HIRA–his own acronym for highways, internet services, railways and airways–and accused the previous government of corruption and scuttling development.
The former chief minister said the modernization of Maharaja Bir Bikram Arport in Agartala–where a new terminal was opened by Modi—had started in the Left era. “We first floated the proposal of modernizing the airport, arranged additional land for developing it and spent Rs35 crore from own exchequer. We relocated 30-33 families whose houses had to be removed for airport expansion. Even excavation and others works started in our tenure. Now the PM is saying we had hit brakes on development. What does he think of himself?” a visibly miffed Sarkar said.
The CPI(M) veteran alleged that the Prime Minister was trying to undermine the people’s movements for rail, road and air connectivity because, “having played no role in India’s freedom struggle”, Modi and his party “had no idea of mass movements”. He also accused Modi’s political predecessors of having been “British agents and backstabbing freedom fighters”.
Rejecting Modi’s claims of having accelerated development in railways, internet and other connectivity avenues, Sarkar said that broad-gauge train services had reached Tripura because of the prolonged demands of the state’s people and Left organisations. He also said ambitious railway projects such as Indo-Bangla international rail connectivity on the Agartala-Akhaura route were started under the Left rule. Sarkar alleged not much had been done since the BJP-led alliance came to power ending decades of Left rule. The opposition leader also said that the third internet gateway of India was set up in Tripura during the Left rule and that the erstwhile UPA government had approved multiple national highways in principle.
On governance under Biplab Deb’s BJP government, Sarkar said that allegations of corruption were rampant, including in Tripura State Rifles recruitment. He also criticised the state’s Mission 100 Vidyajyoti School scheme launched by the Prime Minister, saying the Centre’s new education policy from which the scheme draws ideas was dangerous for students from humble backgrounds.
“I have replied to the PM’s comments. If he has courage, he may speak again,” Sarkar concluded.
Reacting to Sarkar’s comments, Tripura Information and Cultural Affairs minister Sushanta Chowdhury said later this evening that the Opposition leader’s comments were the result of “political bankruptcy and desperation”.
“He should be ashamed. His own governments were submerged in corruption and he is trying to accuse Modiji’s government of corruption. Let him present proof if he can,” Chowdhury said.