Agartala: In a surprise move, BJP made Rajya Sabha MP Manik Saha the new chief minister of Tripura, succeeding Biplab Kumar Deb who resigned earlier on Saturday.
Saha, the BJP's state president, was elected the legislature party leader at a meeting at the chief minister's official residence soon after a crestfallen Deb tendered his resignation to Governor SN Arya.
As Deb proposed the 69-year-old Saha's name in the meeting, minister Ram Prasad Paul protested, which led to a scuffle among MLAs. Paul also broke a few chairs before the situation was calmed, sources said.
Paul wanted deputy chief minister Jishnu Dev Varma, a member of the erstwhile Tripura royal family, as the next chief minister of the state, they said.
Senior BJP leaders Bhupender Yadav and Vinod Tawde were observers for the election of the legislature party leader.
"I was a common worker of the party and will continue to be so," Saha told reporters after being named the next chief minister.
Deb, 50, resigned a day after meeting Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president JP Nadda in New Delhi.
"Party is above all. I am a loyal worker of the BJP. I hope I have done justice to the responsibilities that were given to me -- whether it was as BJP state president or as Tripura chief minister. I have worked for the overall development of Tripura, and to ensure peace for the people of the state," Deb said after resigning.
"The 2023 election is coming, and the party wants a responsible organiser to take charge of the affairs here. Because, a government can only be formed if the organisation is strong," he said, explaining the party's decision to give him organisational responsibilities.
Deb was appointed the chief minister after the BJP stormed to power in 2018, ending 25 years of Left Front rule in the Northeastern state.