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Tripura ex-minister Sudip Roy Barman: BJP can’t win all polls with money, won’t return to power

In his first public appearance since he leaving the BJP for the Congress, former Tripura health minister Sudip Roy Barman on Saturday said the BJP-IPFT government would not return to power in 2023 and that he would ensure the party wouldn’t win "even a single seat".

Former Tripura health minister Sudip Roy Barman (File)

Sudip Roy Barman, who joined Congress this week, says there’s no democracy in BJP as everything depends on one person’s wishes. BJP says his intention is to help CPI(M) return to power.

In his first public appearance since he leaving the BJP for the Congress, former Tripura health minister Sudip Roy Barman on Saturday said the BJP-IPFT government would not return to power in 2023 and that he would ensure the party wouldn’t win “even a single seat”.

A five-term MLA, Barman and his close associate Ashish Kumar Saha, who was also a BJP MLA, joined the Congress after meeting Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi in New Delhi this week.

Recounting the fourteen months he was in the Biplab Kumar Deb cabinet, Burman said that with four departments entrusted to him, he had tried to do good for people. “I had a dream to help people by giving all kinds of treatment facilities…. They became jealous and removed me from the cabinet…They requested me to rejoin the cabinet twice later. I respectfully declined it because ministers, starting from the deputy chief minister, have no administrative power. No official listens to them. Nobody listens to MLAs either,” he said.

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In an oblique reference to Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, Barman said, “Everything depends on the wishes of one person and a few bureaucrats.”

He said there were no democratic rights under the BJP rule and claimed that since the government came to power, all subsequent elections had been rigged. “They (BJP) don’t have faith in the people. They think they can win all elections with huge money and muscle power and that they would stay in power in this way. Did we go to the BJP for this parivartan (change)?” he said.

Barman, who was elected four times on Congress tickets, had also served as the Opposition leader in the Assembly. He joined the Trinamool Congress along with five other MLAs in 2016, and switched over to the BJP a year later, something he said he now regretted.

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Criticizing the BJP’s working style, Barman said, “We wanted to honour people’s aspirations of minimizing the division of votes and stopping the Left Front from coming back to power (in 2018). But given what we have seen in past four years, the BJP doesn’t know the grammar of politics.”

He alleged large-scale bribery in the examinations and appointments conducted by the Joint Recruitment Board Tripura. He dared the government to publish rank lists. “Seventy-five per cent of those selected are from other states. Only 25 per cent are from our state. The government is hesitant to announce JRBT results because bribes were accepted in return for assurance on selection. Now they have to return the money or they will get assaulted. I have got reports from some officials. I worked for sometime with honesty. I demand the government publish the rank list,” Barman said.

He said the quality of education had taken a beating in colleges and universities despite the state having qualified candidates with PhD, NET and SET credentials. Madrasa teachers have been unpaid for months, and several positions are lying vacant while some are being outsourced, he alleged.

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Barman rejected the BJP government’s claim that it had fulfilled 90 per cent of its 2018 election promises. “We were feeling suffocated in that party. This government can’t ensure security to doctors. I left my escort and the boro karta (big boss) was upset. Tripura has a 71.1 per cent unemployment rate, the third biggest in the country,” he said.

He also alleged the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council was not provided with sufficient funds since the BJP could not win the council elections last year. “The date for holding village committee polls there has expired. Development has come to a standstill there,” he said.

Barman accused Union Home Minister Amit Shah of rejecting a proposal for direct funding for the council saying it would mean “empowerment of Christianity”. “TIPRA Motha leader Pradyot Kishore Debbarma is not allowed to work. They are conspiring to occupy the ADC (the council) by dividing the people,” he said, adding that the Congress would demand direct funding for the council.

Barman appealed to all non-BJP parties to join hands with the Congress, and said no political party was “untouchable” for it. “There are attempts to suffocate voices of dissent in Tripura. I urge all parties not to act cowardly this time,” he said.

Reacting to his comments, BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharya said they proved his proximity to the CPI(M). “All these are efforts to bring the CPI(M) back to power. But these will go in vain. These allegations don’t have any basis. Since this government came to power, there has been no corruption,” he said.

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Ashish Kumar Saha, who followed Barman into the Congress, said the BJP was trying to intimidate people through bands of motorcycle-borne hooligans and urged youths to resist such tactics and maintain similar motorcycle-teams to thwart assaults by the ruling party’s cadres.

BJP spokesperson Bhattacharya also dismissed Barman’s criticisms.

First published on: 12-02-2022 at 10:37:02 pm
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