May 15, 2022 10:23:51 pm
On Saturday, when Biplab Kumar Deb was suddenly replaced with Manik Saha as Chief Minister, one man was caught kicking and screaming: Fire and Cooperative Minister Ramprasad Paul, who had opposed Deb before he eventually joined his Cabinet last year.
“I will die, I will not (have anything to) do (with) such a party,” he wailed on Sunday. Video clips later showed Paul lifting a chair and trying to hurl it at the BJP leaders who had come from Delhi – Union Minister Bhupender Yadav, party general secretary Vinod Tawde, secretary Vinod Kumar Sonkar – for the legislature party meeting.
A day later, Saha appeared a much changed man. He called the drama of the previous day an “emotional outburst” and that he had nothing against the party.
“This happens sometimes. This is a democratic party. Sab chalta hain. Jo hota hain, discipline mein hi hota hain (Whatever happens is in line with discipline)… I am working for the party. I am here to serve the party,” he said.
.@ramprasadpalBJP, feeling okay?
— AITC Tripura (@AITC4Tripura) May 14, 2022
On Sunday, both Paul and Deputy Chief Minister Jishnu Devvarma, who were seen as potential contenders for the CM, came late for the swearing-in ceremony for the new CM. They, however, defended their delay saying they were late “only by a few minutes” and that not much should be read into their absence.
A long-time member of the party and the RSS, it was only in 2018, after earlier failed attempts, that Paul, 54, became legislator for the first time, winning from Suryamaninagar Assembly constituency in West Tripura against the CPI(M)’s Rajkumar Choudhury by a margin of 4,567 votes.
Once a close aide of Sudip Roy Barman, the Congress leader who after stints in the Trinamool Congress and BJP is now back in the Congress, Paul was part of the Barman-led delegation that visited New Delhi in October 2020 to complain to the party’s central leadership against Biplab Kumar Deb and his working style and to press for his removal as CM. The visit didn’t yield any results and Paul later claimed the visit was only to discuss organisational issues.
Biplab Deb, however, won him over by inducting him into his Cabinet on August 31 last year, giving him charge of the Fire and Cooperative portfolios along with two other ministers, Sushanta Chowdhury and Bhagaban Das. Like Paul, Chowdhury was a close associate of Barman.
On February 16 this year, Paul and 14 others accused now CM and then BJP state unit chief Saha, considered by many as close to Deb, of running the state unit to the ground.
The leaders wrote to Saha, asking him to resign and said he was named state unit chief “without any proper election by depriving competent and experienced capable senior leaders”.
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It was this angst that ended in Paul’s outburst against Saha on Saturday.
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