Amid open dissent, 4 central BJP leaders rush to Tripura

Amidst dissidence by a section of ruling BJP MLAs and leaders in Tripura, four senior party leaders arrived in the state on Monday for a week-long visit 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 party’s North East Zonal Secretary, Organisation, Ajay Jamwal, would meet Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, state President Manik Saha, all Ministers, MLAs, state and district leaders and would obtain their views about the governance and functioning of the party organisation.

The other Bharatiya Janata Party 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 subdivisions to meet the grassroot 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 in the meeting, they obtained 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 grassroot 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.

“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.

A senior BJP leader told IANS that the Chief Minister would expand and reshuffle his council of ministers in line with the recent Union Cabinet reshuffle done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Without elaborating, the BJP leader said that the exercises both in the ministry and the organisation would be done keeping an eye on the next assembly elections, due in February 2023.

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, Barman was sacked, following differences of opinion with the Chief Minister.

The BJP in the state, along with central leaders, have initiated a series of meetings since June to resolve the differences.

Besides the state Executive meeting on June 28, two other very significant meetings including a MLAs meet were held in just 12 days. On June 16, BJP’s National General Secretary (Organisation) B.L. Santhosh, Jamwal and Sharma rushed to the state and held a series of meetings for two days with the state leaders, legislators, ministers and other party functionaries.

In the June 28 meeting, where the dissident leaders and MLAs led by Roy Barman remained absent, Sharma physically attended while BJP’s strategist and National General Secretary Bhupender Yadav (now Union Minister) and Sonkar virtually participated in the meeting from Delhi.

Strong speculations about fresh political developments in Tripura gained currency after BJP national Vice President Mukul Roy, along with his son Subhrangshu Roy, rejoined West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool on June 11 in Kolkata. Roy, before joining the BJP around four years ago, had often visited Tripura to supervise the Trinamool’s organisational matters.

Under Roy’s influence, six Congress MLAs led by Roy Barman and a large number of party leaders and workers joined the Trinamool in 2016 and a year later, joined the BJP, boosting the political strength of the saffron party. All the six and former Congress legislature party leader Ratan Lal Nath were re-elected on the BJP tickets in the 2018 polls and among them Roy Barman, Pranajit Singha Roy and Nath were made Ministers and Biswabandhu Sen appointed as Deputy Speaker.

At least 11 BJP legislators and some party leaders led by Roy Barman and fellow MLAs and former party Vice-President Ram Prasad Paul went to Delhi in October last year to discuss “party affairs in Tripura with the central leadership”.

Amid dissidence, Chief Minister Deb in December last year announced to take a “public mandate” through public gatherings in Agartala but subsequently at the request of central and state leaders, the plan was called off.