Setting aside its alliance partner Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura’s demands that a tribal be made the chief minister, BJP declared its state unit chief Biplab Deb as the next premier of Tripura. Jishnu Debbarma, convener of the state BJP’s Janajati Morcha or tribal unit, will be Deb’s deputy. The announcement was made by Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari, who along with Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram, was sent to Tripura as central observers. The BJP stormed the CPI(M) citadel of Tripura, winning 43 seats in alliance with the IPFT, ending 25 years’ of Left rule. The swearing-in ceremony will be held on March 9, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi likely to be in attendance.
Officially, the BJP did not declare any chief ministerial candidate during its campaigning, but the fact that Deb would succeed four-term Chief Minister Manik Sarkar was a foregone conclusion, with his image smiling down from every poll banner across the state and also because of the absence of any strong leader who could rival Deb’s personality as they were mostly Congress turncoats.
Debbarma is known to have a sizeable following among the state’s indigenous population. However, he is not yet a legislator and is contesting from Charilam assembly constituency, which will go to polls on March 12.The poll was rescheduled after the death of CPM candidate Ramendra Narayan Debbarma who died of a heart attack before the elections.
Deb’s immediate job will be to pacify its partner IPFT as cracks have already appeared in the alliance. Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura chief N C Debbarma on Monday said his party will support the new government from outside if it was not given ‘respectable’ positions in the ministry.
Deb can very well be termed an ‘outsider’ in the state’s political landscape, but for the fact that he was born and brought up in south Tripura’s Udaipur. After graduating from Tripura University in the year 1999, Deb trained under RSS veteran KN Govindacharya and caught the attention of Sunil Deodhar, the BJP’s Tripura in-charge.
Deb was made the president of the state BJP and in a very short period of time he caught the imagination of the electorate, displaying impressive oratory skills and an overall pleasing personality. In Deb, the anti-Left forces finally found an alternative to the formidable Sarkar.
Following BJP’s impressive show in the Tripura elections, the 48-year-old said the next government’s priority would be all- round development of Tripura. “People responded favourably to our call call ‘Chalo Paltai’ (Let’s Change). The word development does not exist in the dictionary of the CPI-M. Our government will provide good governance and time-bound implementation of all developmental works,” he had said.
Deb is married to a North Indian who works at the State Bank of India’s Parliament House branch. He declared total assets of Rs 47 lakh in his poll affidavit.