Even as the BJP high command asked Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb to not hold the meeting on December 13 to let the public decide if he should continue, none of the top party leaders seem to have an idea of who was behind the sloganeering earlier this week.
BJP state spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharya said senior central leaders are investigating who all were responsible for the anti-Biplab sloganeering. “We have seen on social media that people are talking about the hand of the CPI(M) or other political parties behind this conspiracy,” he said, underlining that the Deb government was not weak despite the attempts to destabilise it.
Bhattacharya said it is not fair to point fingers at MLA Sudip Roy Barman, who was dropped from the cabinet in 2019, apparently due to differences with Deb, “without proper evidence”. However, he said the party high-command would be considering all possible angles.
Roy Barman, meanwhile, said it was a bad precedent that such slogans were raised against an elected 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, urging those responsible to apologise.
The MLA said he ‘adores’ Deb as his younger brother and has written to him on several occasions, suggesting changes in administration, even after he was dropped from the cabinet. The former minister clarified that a group of MLAs including himself did meet BJP chief JP Nadda in New Delhi two months back but claimed it wasn’t to solicit a leadership change in the state but to apprise him of ‘administrative and political issues’.
While a vast majority of BJP has come out in support of Deb, some like former BJP president Ronajoy Kumar Deb suggested the call for a public mandate just showed the chief minster did not have “faith on BJP MLAs”.
BJP’s ally and Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) chief NC Debbarma, also Revenue Minister in the Deb cabinet, too said he was surprised by the CM’s move. “It is inappropriate for a CM to test popularity by such a rally. He could have taken it up in the Assembly, which is the appropriate place for such a move. Both ruling and opposition parties can bring confidence motions there,” the senior minister said.
Meanwhile, after party president JP Nadda and state in-charge Vinod Sonkar asked Deb not to go ahead with the popularity test plan, the latter told reporters that there is no need for people to decide on if the chief minister would remain in office or not. As CM, Deb should serve people of the state and leave internal issues for the party high command to handle, Sonkar said. “There is no difference within the party or its organization in Tripura. Any problem should be left to the high command to handle. Our family is big, but the party will grant everyone audience,” Sonkar said.
On condition of anonymity, a BJP leader said the protesters are of the opinion that Deb is running his government without democratic space for discussion and has failed in governance. The leader said slogans should not have been raised, but it reflected the weight of unresolved agitation inside the party.
CPIM state secretary Goutam Das criticised Deb’s ‘popularity test’ saying the move has exposed ‘internal rivalry’ of the BJP. “The Chief Minister himself brought the matter in public. This popularity test is just a matter of internal feuds for power within BJP. There is no public welfare concern associated with it,” Das said. The BJP government has failed in all sectors including rural administration, law and order, employment and is living off ‘drama’, he added.
State Congress vice-president Tapas Dey said Deb’s ‘filmy-style’ challenge is unbecoming of a chief minister. Dey said the Chief Minister has kept 27 departments including crucial portfolios like Home, Health and Urban Development to himself and has deprived other deserving leaders by keeping four Cabinet berths empty even two years after taking charge. “He runs his administration single-handedly and without democratic consideration. It is natural people want him removed,” he said, adding it was baffling to see opposition parties being blamed for all this.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines