Tripura witnessed unprecedented scenes this Bijoya Doshomi as leaders of major political parties made a beeline for the erstwhile Manikya royal family and paid “courtesy calls” on its head, Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarma, on Thursday.
Pradyot took to Twitter to share photographs of Rajya Sabha MP Biplab Kumar Deb visiting the Raj Andar, or the part of the palace where members of the family now live. The former chief minister was accompanied by his wife, Niti Deb, and both were given a tour of the palace.
Senior Congress leader and MLA Sudip Roy Barman, who once worked with Pradyot during his Congress days, also visited the royal scion at the palace and exchanged greetings.
CPM state secretary Jitendra Chaudhary was the most unlikely visitor at the palace, the communists having been the monarchs’ staunch critics till the erstwhile princely state was merged in the Indian Union. Sources in the palace termed the visit as entirely apolitical.
Senior BJP leader and Union minister Pratima Bhoumik also called on Pradyot and his family at the palace.
“I thank all dignitaries across political lines who came and visit the palace on the auspicious occasion of Vijaya Dashami. Personal relationship and courtesy should always be maintained. Also I would like to thank Smt Pratima Bhowmik who visited my place but there is no photograph taken to wish us on this auspicious day,” Pradyot tweeted.
Political observers saw in the flurry of visits an effort to woo the erstwhile royal family that now heads the TIPRA Motha, the ruling party in the Tripura Autonomous District Council. Motha holds considerable sway in the tribal council, where the party has been in power since last year. The party also has a significant stake in the 20 scheduled tribe seats in the 60-member Assembly.
The royal family is still a part of the official formalities for Bijoya Doshomi, where police are required to offer gun salute after a puja is offered to the royal throne, and then starts a procession for immersing the Durga idol from Durga Bari Temple, the erstwhile royal shrine of the goddess Durga in Agartala.
As per Tripura’s merger agreement with the central government on October 15, 1949, the state government took over the funding and maintenance of rituals of the Durga Bari Temple, Tripurasundari Temple at Udaipur in Gomati district and a few other temples. And the district magistrates of West Tripura and Gomati are the de facto “sevayats” of the rituals of the Durga Bari and Tripurasundari temples. Both temples have historical and mythological significance, dating back 137 years and over 500 years, respectively.