As senior BJP leaders gather in Agartala amid speculations that some party MLAs could jump ship for a resurgent TMC, Tripura state president Dr. Manik Saha Wednesday said “all is well in the BJP family”, and any differences will be resolved through discussions.
Since this morning, BJP’s national general secretary BL Santhosh, organisational in-charge of Tripura Fanindra Nath Sharma and others are in the state to hold meetings with the local leadership, in what is being described as Santhosh’s ‘prabaas’ or organisational review visit.
The visit comes soon after speculations went rife on social media that a group of ‘dissident’ BJP MLAs might move back to Trinamool Congress. Prominent among them is former health minister and MLA Sudip Roy Barman, who along with other leaders, had joined the BJP from the TMC in 2017.
Barman and five other Trinamool turncoats had last year met BJP chief JP Nadda. While the meeting was initially seen as an attempt to oust Biplab Kumar Deb as Tripura Chief Minister, the MLAs later said they had gone to discuss “organisational issues”.
In July last year, a group of BJP supporters had raised ‘Biplab Hataao, BJP Bachaao’ slogans during BJP in-charge of Tripura Vinod Sonkar’s ‘prabaas’ at Agartala.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday evening, state BJP chief Dr Manik Saha said the central leaders are holding discussions ‘individually’ with all ministers and MLAs, and will also host collective discussion sessions.
“BL Santhosh ji is visiting Tripura. He is talking to state leaders, frontal organisational leaders, the Deputy Chief Minister and all MLAs. He is giving us a direction to move ahead. He will also hold a meeting with ally IPFT,” Dr. Saha said.
On whether BJP legislators would be jumping ship, Saha said his party has got ‘no such reports’. “All our MLAs are with us,” he said.
Questioned about MLAs who have spoken out against the chosen leadership on several instances, Saha said, “There are several disagreement in a family. These will be sorted out.”
Contrary to the usual policy of downright condemning anti-party talks, he also said, “There is scope to talk in BJP. We don’t look at them sternly. We shall discuss whatever issues arise.”
Meanwhile, an MLA who is a close aide and confidante of Sudip Roy Barman told indianexpress.com that while they do have ‘issues’, speculations of them joining Trinamool Congress are ‘baseless rumour-mongering’.
“All this is baseless rumour-mongering. We are very much in BJP. We have some differences; part and parcel of any family. This doesn’t mean we are joining TMC. Not all MLAs have the same issues. We are discussing with the high command, who will handle it,” he said.
On the other hand, TMC Tripura president Ashish Lal Singh said his party’s influence in the state is increasing by leaps and bounds since Mamata Banerjee’s landslide victory in Bengal on May 2. As many as 11,300 people from BJP and CPI(M) have joined Trinamool in the past two weeks, he claimed, adding that while the party base is expanding in the state, any decision to accept turncoats will be taken by the TMC supremo.
“We want to work with everybody. However, Mamata Banerjee has clarified that she will not take back people who humiliated the TMC,” he said.
In an oblique reference to Sudip Roy Barman and his followers, Singh said, “People of Tripura want fresh faces; they have been cheated for the past 30 years. People don’t want turncoats. However, nothing is final in politics. This is a decision to be taken by Mamata Banerjee and Abhishek Banerjee.”