Speculation is rife about a decision to be taken regarding former Tripura chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb, with the arrival of BJP national organisation general secretary B L Santhosh here Tuesday.
Deb, who had stepped down in a surprise decision on May 14, is still waiting for a word from the party on his future. While he had said he was resigning to take on party responsibilities, the BJP has been quiet on reasons for his making way for Manik Saha, and neither has it assigned him any other formal position.
During the recent bypolls – also contested by Saha to get elected to the Assembly – Deb had initially stayed away from campaigning.
The two leaders are believed to have met often in the first few days of Saha becoming CM – Deb was considered Saha’s mentor in the party – but, BJP sources said, chill had set in lately in their relations.
A series of meetings are lined up over the two days of Santhosh’s visit. A senior BJP leader said he is expected to hold around 8-10 meetings, with senior leaders, office-bearers, MLAs, MPs, and spokespersons. Santhosh has been touring the country holding such organisational meetings. He arrived from Assam, and is next headed for Bihar.
Asked whether plans for Deb would be among the items on the agenda, and if a party post or a Rajya Sabha nomination was on the cards, Sonkar was non-committal. “The BJP is a party of karyakartas. Whatever the party leadership decides about karyakartas, they will do.”
A Rajya Sabha seat from Tripura is vacant since Saha left it to contest for the Assembly.
Union Minister of State Pratima Bhoumik, once a close confidante of Deb, refused to talk about the matter.
Many leaders who have left the BJP over the past few years, such as Sudip Roy Barman, Ashish Kumar Saha and Ashish Das, have blamed Deb’s “highhandedness” in managing the government and party for their decision.
Deb, who returned from Delhi only on Tuesday and was seen sharing the dais with Santhosh and others, said he had gone to the Capital for “courtesy” visits. “My family lives in Delhi. And since I was there, I joined an event to mark Kargil Day, met our leadership. I also met B L Santhoshji, since I hadn’t met them in quite some time… Our party is a family. As a family, we keep meeting each other”, he told the media.
He also brushed aside rumours that the party will take action against him. On what the future held for him, Deb said: “I’ll be seen in the avatar that the party decides for me.”
Soon after his resignation, which came as a bolt from the blue to even his Cabinet colleagues, Deb had said: “The party is above all. I was given the charge of party state president by former BJP chief Amit Shah. I tried to work for the betterment of Tripura, both as party chief and as CM. I tried to achieve justice for the people of Tripura in whichever responsibility was given to me.”
Hinting that he expected a post in the party, he had added that the BJP wanted to bring “responsible karyakartas” into the organisation to prepare for the 2023 Assembly elections. “The government will stay if there is a party organisation. If the (BJP) government has to stay for long, karyakartas like me should work in the party, and the party will benefit from it,” Deb had said.
While Deb’s resignation was seen as similar to the changes by the BJP in other poll-bound states earlier, such as Uttarakhand, Gujarat and Karnataka, the party had itself not spelled out this.
Deb’s tenure was marked by some successes such as the start of the Indo-Bangla international inland waterways connectivity route, inauguration of the Indo-Bangla Maitri Bridge in South Tripura, and launch of the state’s first flyover the construction of which started under the Left Front government.