In a major shock to Tripura’s ruling BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the party’s state vice-president Subal Bhowmik Tuesday joined the Congress, saying he felt he was a “burden” on the saffron party. Former minister and BJP state leader Prakash Das, CPI (M) councilor Debashish Sen, BJP Kisan Morcha vice-president Premtosh Debnath and others, too, joined Congress today. Their return came 24 hours before Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Tripura.
Reacting to the development, Tripura Congress president Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debburman said it was a “true ghar-wapsi” for those leaders. He also claimed his party is confident to defeat BJP in both the Lok Sabha seats in the state.
Subal tendered his resignation to Tripura BIP president Biplab Kumar Deb this morning, saying “some unavoidable circumstances” compelled him to relinquish all positions as office-bearers of BJP with immediate effect along with primary membership of the party.
“Some people in the BJP stood against my presidentship proposal in the party saying the BJP-IPFT government would break up. Others stood against my candidature in Lok Sabha polls saying it would cause a split in government. I don’t want to be a burden. I am joining Congress,” Bhowmik told reporters
Subal also said that the BJP rule is no different from CPI (M) rule in terms of hooliganism, terror, political violence and nepotism. “There is no internal democracy in BJP. The party has turned into a circus of unworthy leaders”, the leader told reporters.
He declined to comment if Congress has offered him a Lok Sabha ticket. However, the leader said he would work on any assignment given by the party.
Subal Bhowmik, 57, has been a Congress leader since late 1970s. He left the party and formed his own party – Tripura Pragatisheel Grameen Congress – in 2013. He blamed Congress central leadership for the party’s defeat in 2013 Tripura assembly polls and said that with the then Congress leadership at the helm of affairs, Congress would never come to power in Tripura. He joined BJP in 2014 and was named vice-president of the party’s state committee.
Earlier in 2008, Bhowmik contested and won from Sonamura assembly constituency on a Congress ticket. Since Assembly seats of the state underwent delimitation before the 2013 polls, Sonamura constituency had major changes in its composition. Congress formed an alliance at the time with Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), a regional party demanding a separate state for indigenous communities, in nine seats.
Bhowmik’s departure from Congress was preceded by former minister Jawhar Saha who blamed the then state president Sudip Roy Barman and Ratan Lal Nath for his party’s electoral drubbing.
Former minister Prakash Das served as Minister of State for SC Welfare in Tripura from 1988 to 1993. Terming Tripura’s BJP-IPFT government “anti-Scheduled Caste”, Das said no SC MLA was included in the state cabinet in order “to suppress people from the backward classes”.
Reacting to Bhowmik’s defection, BJP spokesperson Dr Ashok Sinha said the leader’s departure will not affect BJP’s poll prospects.
“India is a free country and people are free to take their political decisions. But their departure will not affect BJP’s Lok Sabha prospects”, Sinha said.
Tripura will vote in two phases on April 11 and 18. The results of the multi-phased polls will be announced on May 23.