A DAY after he called a public meeting on December 13 to seek the people’s “mandate” on whether he should continue in office in the face of intense factionalism in the BJP state unit, Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Wednesday called it off following intervention of the party’s central leadership.
Sources said the BJP central leadership stepped in to resolve the internal crisis — triggered by allegations from a section of leaders about Deb’s “dictatorial” style of functioning — hours after the chief minister’s Tuesday announcement. BJP national president J P Nadda spoke to Deb following which the public meeting was cancelled.
“After the discussions it was decided that the chief minister will not hold any such meeting. There is no threat to his leadership in the state and he will continue to serve the people of Tripura as chief minister. Let the organisation handle the issues in the party,” BJP central observer Vinod Sonkar told The Indian Express.
Sources in the BJP said Deb has been asked to focus on governance issues while the central leadership would resolve the internal issues in the party’s state unit.
According to sources in the Tripura BJP, several party MLAs expressed their displeasure over Deb’s style of functioning when they met Sonkar during his maiden visit to the state in his capacity as central observer earlier this week. Some MLAs claimed that Deb has been running the government as well as the party unit without consulting other leaders. A group of party supporters also raised slogans against Deb — in Sonkar’s presence — on Sunday. Sonkar, who met each of the 36 MLAs individually, later briefed Nadda about the situation.
BJP sources, however, ruled out any immediate change in leadership. Sonkar said there was no discussion on leadership change.
The sources said the central leadership, although convinced about some issues raised by the MLAs, does not want to replace the chief minister as it could set off similar demands in other state units where disgruntled MLAs have raised issues against the chief ministers. They said the party leadership is “annoyed” with Deb’s Tuesday’s announcement — which was apparently not discussed with the central leadership — and added that it has “weakened” the party structure in Tripura.
Following Sunday’s slogan-shouting, Deb’s associates had alleged that the protest was organised by his rival in the party, Sudip Roy Barman, who had met BJP national leaders in Delhi in October along with seven others MLAs to allegedly demand Deb’s removal. The MLAs had claimed to have the support of at least two more among the BJP’s 36 legislators in the House of 60.
BJP state spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharya, however, said it was not fair to point fingers at Roy Barman, who was dropped from the Cabinet in 2019 apparently due to differences with Deb, “without proper evidence”. Blaming opposition parties, he said, “We have seen on social media that people are talking about the involvement of the CPI(M) or other political parties in this conspiracy.”
Roy Barman condemned the slogan-shouting against the chief minister. “This is a matter of great disregard. I absolutely condemn this sort of behaviour. Whoever did this, has behaved most childishly and irresponsibly,” he said. On his trip to Delhi with the other MLAs, he said they did meet Nadda two months ago but claimed it was not to demand a leadership change in the state but to apprise the party chief of “administrative and political issues”. —With inputs from Debraj Deb, Agartala.