Three new faces — Ram Prasad Paul, Sushanta Chowdhury, Bhagaban Chandra Das — were on Tuesday inducted into the Tripura cabinet in its first expansion after the BJP-IPFT alliance assumed office in March 2018 after defeating the Left parties in the assembly polls.
Governor Satyadeo Narain Arya administered the oath of office and secrecy to Paul, Chowdhury and Das at a function in Raj Bhavan, where Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, his council of ministers and other dignitaries including Union Minister from Tripura Pratima Bhowmik and four central BJP leaders were present.
Former Tripura BJP-Vice President Paul, 55 and 42-year-old legislator Chowdhury elected to the assembly in the 2018 polls for the first time from western Tripura. Das is the saffron party’s northern Tripura leader who was also elected to the assembly for the first time.
“With the elevation of 47-year-old Das, the long awaited demand for a minister belonging to the Scheduled Caste (SC) community was fulfilled.
“Those BJP MLAs who were not accommodated in the cabinet would be the chairpersons from among the 31 Public Sector Undertakings and Corporations,” a top party leader told IANS on Tuesday.
Amidst open resentment by a section of the ruling BJP MLAs and leaders in Tripura, the cabinet expansion took place on Tuesday afternoon even as the dissident MLAs and BJP leaders boycotted the swearing-in-ceremony.
The leaders of the opposition Left parties and the Congress also did not attend the oath taking ceremony.
The BJP leader refusing to be named said that eyeing the 2023 assembly election in Tripura, the Bharatiya Janata Party was further activating governance and the party organisation cross the state.
Since the BJP-IPFT (Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura) government assumed office on March 9, 2018, three ministerial berths were lying vacant and in May 2019 former Health and Information Technology Minister Sudip Roy Barman was sacked following differences with the Chief Minister and the vacancies in the ministry rose to four.
Amidst dissidence by a section of the ruling BJP MLAs and leaders since 2019, four senior central party leaders arrived in the state on Monday for a week-long visit to quill the internal disputes and also to plug the shortcomings, both in the government and the organisation.
BJP’s Tripura chief spokesman Subrata Chakraborty said that the central leaders, led by the party’s North East Zonal Secretary, Organisation, Ajay Jamwal, soon after their arrival on Monday started holding a series of meetings with the Chief Minister, state President Manik Saha, Ministers, MLAs, state and district leaders to obtain their views about governance and functioning of the party organisation.
The other BJP central leaders in the team are national General Secretary Dilip Saikiya, General Secretary in-charge of Tripura-Assam Phanindranath Sharma, and state’s central observer Vinod Sonkar.
“The central party leaders would also visit a few districts and sub-divisions to meet the grassroots leaders and workers,” Chakraborty told IANS.
The central team arrived a day after five dissident BJP MLAs, and former district and state leaders held a meeting here on Sunday. The five MLAs are Sudip Roy Barman, Ashis Kumar Saha, Diba Chandra Hrangkhawl, Ashis Das, and Burba Mohan Tripura.
Barman, a former Health and Information Technology Minister, told IANS that at Sunday’s meeting, they obtained the views and suggestions of the district and local leaders of all the eight districts and these would be communicated to the visiting central leaders.
“Leaders of the government and party organisations are not keen to listen to the opinion, grievances and suggestions of the district and grassroots leaders. That’s why the conference was held. This is not against the BJP or to join the Trinamool Congress,” the Congress-turned-BJP leader said.
Another rebel legislator Ashis Kumar Saha said: “With our joining, along with thousands of party (Trinamool and Congress) workers in 2016, the BJP got a massive political strength, facilitating it to come to power defeating the Left parties after 25 years.”
“People and workers of the party have many problems and issues. We want that the government and the party should give importance to the opinion and propositions of all,” Saha told IANS.