At least seven BJP Tripura MLAs are camping in the national capital to meet the party’s national leadership and demand the removal of Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, calling him dictatorial, inexperienced and unpopular.
Led by Sudip Roy Barman, the MLAs claim to have the support of at least two more among the BJP’s 36 legislators in the House of 60 (eight IPFT MLAs also support the Deb government).
Apart from Barman, the MLAs in Delhi reportedly include Sushanta Choudhary, Ashish Saha, Ashish Das, Diwa Chandra Rankhal, Burb Mohan Tripura, Parimal Deb Barma and Ram Prasad Pal. “Birendra Kishore Deb Burnam and Biplab Ghosh are also with us,” Choudhary claimed, adding that the two couldn’t be in Delhi as they had Covid.
Leaders close to Deb as well as BJP leaders in Tripura said there was no danger to the state government. “The government is very safe and I can assure you that seven or eight MLAs cannot topple the government,” Tripura BJP president Manik Saha said. On the grievances of the MLAs, he said: “I have not heard their complaints… In the BJP, we do not discuss such issues outside the party.”
A source close to the CM said Ram Prasad Pal, an RSS leader, was not likely to go with the MLAs.
BJP sources said general secretary (Organisation) B L Santosh had met Barman and conveyed to him that a change at the top was unlikely, and that the party doesn’t make such decisions unless initiated by the PM. Deb is believed to have the confidence of Modi.
The rebel MLAs have sought an audience with BJP president J P Nadda and Home Minister Amit Shah. “We will also seek a meeting with the PM. The PM cannot be kept in the dark on what’s happening in Tripura,” Choudhary said.
He said they have told the leadership that Deb must be replaced if the BJP wants to continue in power in the state for the long term. “What is happening in Tripura is total dictatorship. The Chief Minister does not trust any of his MLAs, he himself holds charge of more than two dozen departments. From rickshaw puller to vegetable/fish vendors to industrialists, everyone in the state resents him.”
Choudhary reiterated that they have no complaints against the BJP or its leadership at the Centre. “We are committed to the BJP ideology and loyal to PM Narendra Modi,” he said.
Choudhary and Barman were among the seven former Congress leaders who joined the BJP in 2017. Sources close to Deb pointed out that Barman had been removed as minister after the Lok Sabha elections when some leaders had alleged that he had worked against the BJP’s interests.
However, many party leaders said Barman, brought to the BJP by national secretary Sunil Deodhar, was not entirely without support in the state unit.
Choudhary warned that at this rate, the Communists could return to power. “Biplab Deb is preparing the ground… If the BJP leadership is keen to keep Tripura with them, they should replace Deb with someone else. He does not have the experience to rule, nor the political acumen. He is most inexperienced and feels insecure about everyone.”
Choudhary said the BJP leadership could conduct a survey on the CM’s popularity to confirm this. “I am sure 98 of 100 people will say he should be removed.”
One of the issues the MLAs have raised is the lack of a health minister in the state despite Covid.
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