The day after a statue of Lenin was razed by BJP supporters celebrating their assembly poll win in Tripura, amidst reports of attacks on CPM offices and workers, the Union Home Ministry Tuesday asked the Tripura Governor and DGP to ensure peace till a new government is installed.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit Agartala to attend the swearing-in ceremony on March 9, when Tripura BJP chief Biplab Deb will be sworn in as Chief Minister.
Officials said Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s intervention came after Governor Tathagata Roy appeared to justify the razing of the statue in south Tripura, in a series of posts on his official Twitter account. The Governor also claimed that he had received “no communication” from the Home Minister.
Responding late Monday to a tweet on the demolition, Roy wrote: “What one democratically elected government can do another democratically elected government can undo. And vice versa.”
On Tuesday, responding to a post on the Centre’s intervention, Roy posted: “The Governor has received no such written communication from the Union Home Minister…”
Later, referring to the statue, Roy tweeted: “I am advised that pulling down statues (Lenin’s or anyone else’s) unless done by lawfully empowered authorities, qualify as ‘Mischief’ under Indian Penal Code. They are bailable and non-cognizable offences. Trying to blow them up to something like rioting or murder is unwarranted.”
According to officials, the Home Minister spoke on the telephone with Roy and DGP A K Shukla on the reported incidents of violence and steps taken to contain the situation. Singh was in Guwahati enroute to Meghalaya for the swearing-in ceremony there when he spoke to Roy and Shukla, officials said.
A series of violent incidents was reported from Tripura since Saturday, with the CPM complaining of targeted attacks after the BJP-IPFT alliance ended 25 years of Left rule in the state.
“Adequate central security forces and state police are available in Tripura for maintaining law and order, and restoring peace,” said a spokesperson of the Union Home Ministry.
The spokesperson said that Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba spoke to Tripura Chief Secretary Sanjeev Ranjan and DGP Shukla, and asked them to take all possible steps to maintain law and order, check violence and restore peace and public order.
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In Delhi, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury criticised the violence and described the Governor’s tweet on the statue as “unfortunate”.
“Such attacks clearly demonstrate that the RSS and the BJP rely mainly on unleashing political violence as means to advance their inherent anti-democratic and fascist agenda,” said Yechury.
However, MoS (Home) Hansraj Ahir said statues of foreign leaders have no place in India. “We condemn all kinds of violence, and the state government is handling the situation. But I want to make it clear that statues of foreign leaders are not required in India. I don’t want to take anyone’s name but I want to say that we have no place for them,” he said.
Ahir said that India has produced enough icons and ideologues, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda, B R Ambedkar, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya and Ram Manohar Lohia, for people to eulogise foreigners.
Earlier Tuesday, Deb was unanimously elected the BJP Legislature Party leader at a meeting attended by Union minister Nitin Gadkari. “The Governor has appointed me as the Chief Minister,” said Deb after his meeting with Roy.
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Deb said that apart from Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and chief ministers of all the BJP-ruled states would be invited to the swearing-in ceremony.
The BJP candidate from Charilam, Jishnu Debbarma, has been appointed the Deputy Chief Minister. Debbarma is yet to contest the elections as polling was rescheduled in his constituency after the death of CPM candidate Narendra Narayan Debbarma ahead of the elections.
While the CPM has fielded a new candidate, BJP leaders believe that Debbarma will breeze to victory, with the party all set to form the government.
Debbarma is a member of Tripura’s royal family and the BJP’s main tribal face. The BJP had played up Tripura’s royal lineage through its election campaign, asserting that the Agartala airport would be named after Maharaja Bir Bikram Singh Debbarma, who would also be posthumously conferred the Bharat Ratna.
The BJP-IPFT combine swept to power last week, winning 43 seats in the 60-member Assembly. The BJP bagged 35 seats and the IPFT eight.