Column | Revolt against Tripura CM Biplab a wake up call for BJP

Column | Revolt against Tripura CM Biplab a wake up call for BJP
Union Home Minister Amit Shah with Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb (R). File photo

The revolt by a section of legislators against Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb took the BJP central leadership by surprise.

Nine MLAs, mainly defectors from the Congress, refused to heed to an order from BJP general secretary B L Santosh to return to Agartala.

They insisted on a meeting with the BJP top brass even though Santosh, who is in charge of the organisational affairs, said Deb was personally chosen by Narendra Modi and the party would not tolerate dissidence.

But the group led by former Tripura health minister Sudip Roy Burman insisted their grievances should be heard by the central leadership.

After Modi become the PM in 2014 and entrusted the party to Amit Shah, dissident activity BJP-ruled states have been sharply discouraged.

The party's projection was that the PM and Shah know the popular pulse, aspirations and needs of partymen across the country.

After a deadlock, a compromise was worked out.

Party president J P Nadda agreed to meet four Tripura dissidents. It delegation would exclude Burman and the quartet would include both original BJP men and former Congress activists who switched sides.

Nadda gave a patient hearing to the dissidents, who listed out how Deb, a fine public speaker but an inexperienced administrator, made multiple errors and uttered embarrassing statements.

They accused that a coterie led by new state BJP president Manik Saha, a dentist, was manipulating the novice chief minister.

Deb, who became the state BJP president in 2016, had led the party to a sensational victory two years later dislodging the CPM, which had been in power in Tripura for 25 years.

Modi had hailed Deb for staging a revolution and he was entrusted with both party and government until Saha, Deb's confidant, took over the post in January.

While Deb built a coalition with a tribal party and brought in many key players from Congress to take on the CPM, saha wants more ideological purity.

The BJP top brass is of the view that the dissidents were not serious on a change of leadership, but were jockeying for four vacant ministerial berths.

A broad hint has been given that Deb might shuffle his cabinet after the festival season.

The BJP has made a huge foray into the north east region from 2014, till then dominated by the Congress and regional parties.

Now, BJP directly or indirectly controls seven of the eight states in the region with its chief ministers at the helm in Assam, Manipur, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh.

It is a junior partner to Sikkim Krantikari Morcha in Sikkim; is in alliance with Naga Pople's Party in Nagaland, where Nipheh Rio of NPP is the hief minister.

It is also part of Conrad Sangma led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance.

Last week the state BJP had made serious corruption allegations against the Sangma government, upsetting Sangma and his National People's Party.

Conrad is the son of former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma, who had revolted against Sonia Gandhi in 1999 along with Sharad Pawar to form NCP.

He later left Pawar to form the NPP.

Only in Mizoram, Mizo National Font's Zoramthanga is ruling with a clear majority without depending on BJP.

The BJP is wary that the Congress is encouraging hostile political activities in Tripura, Meghalaya and Manipur.

Last month Manipur Chief mnister Ibobi Singh of the BJP survived a toppling effort by dissidents who were unhappy with the CM's style of fuuncttioning.

Apart from Modi and Shah, the top BJP leader for the north eastern states was general secretary Ram Madhav, who was given credit for the party's strategies in the region. He was also in charge of Jammu and Kashmir, involved in the formation of the PDP-BJP coalition, which crumbled and led to conversion of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories.

Yet, after only one term as general secretary, Ram Madhav was dropped by Nadda in last month's reshuffle. Nadda has not yet announced who will be the new troubleshooter for north east, though the BJP needs one urgently.

Modi has reposed faith in the chief ministers and discouraged dissidents from camping in Delhi.

A major state level change in the BJP was of Anandibn Patel, who had become Gujarat chief minister in 2014 after Modi became the prime minister.

Due to her unpopularity, she was replaced by Vijay Rupani two years later.

Another chief minister who couldn't retain Modi's trust was Laxmikant Parsekar, who was removed in 2017 to bring back the union defence minister Manohar parrikar as Goa chief minister. Parrikar had been handpicked by Modi for Delhi assignment, but he was both unwell and homesick. when Parrikar died in 2019, the BJP ignored parsekar and chose Pramod Sawant.

Even though there have been questions on the style of functioning of Karnataka' B S Yedyurappa and Madhya Pradesh' Shivraj Singh Chauhan, the high command is pleased that they could bring BJP to power by toppling governments of H D Kumaraswamy and Kamal Nath in their respective states.

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