Explained: Why Biplab Deb resigned as Chief Minister and gave job to Manik Saha

Agartala, May 15 (FD) Apparently in a move for renewal of brand in the ruling BJP in Tripura, a 69-year old president, Dr. Manik Saha was given the berth of the Chief Minister by replacing 50-year old Biplab Kumar Deb, under whose leadership the 25-years rule of the Marxists had ended in 2018.

Saha, a maxillofacial surgeon, who passed out from King George Medical College of Lucknow was a humble activist of the opposition Congress joined BJP in 2016 and became the President of Tripura unit of BJP in 2020 after Deb quit the post.

A former badminton player of repute in the state, Saha is also the President of Tripura Cricket Association and credited for the BJP's victory in all thirteen civic bodies in the polls held in November 2021 in Tripura.

Even if he is credited for victory in the civic polls, highly placed sources in the ruling party said the move was required for immediate strengthening of the party when the organization was not in good shape ahead of the sixty-member assembly elections due after eight months.

Party insiders said that the leaders in the party were losing grips over the ground level workers as a section of the party commonly known as ‘bike gang’ were engaged in such works which were tarnishing the image of the party and the senior leaders were repeatedly dispatching letters to the central leadership against the inept handling of the party and lack of appropriate leadership skill.

But what really was giving a nightmare to the party was the sudden rise of the Tripura Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance or TIPRA Motha, a regional political party led by royal scion Pradyot Kishore Debbarma, seeking a separate state for the indigenous people of Tripura.

The party swept the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) elections held in April last year, winning 18 of the 28 seats over the 'Greater Tipraland' demand in a direct contest with the ruling BJP-IPFT alliance.

The statehood demand may affect results in many assembly seats, where tribals hold considerable clout electorally, in the 60-member House.

The TIPRA Motha had completely polarized the state’s politics by raising the demand for separate state and triggered communal tensions in some mixed pockets of the state, where the tribal people constitute one third of the state population and there is no doubt that the party is going to be a determining factor in the next elections.

Moreover, the tribal party has threatened to field candidates in at least 25 general seats out of the total forty seats and manage the tribal votes, which would likely to give rise to tension in the rural areas and the spillover effects would be felt in urban or semi-urban areas.

Party sources said that the BJP is not in a position to counter the rise of TIPRA Motha in tribal dominated areas and the tribal party would sweep in the tribal areas in the next elections.

The Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), a tribal party and the electoral ally of BJP could not secure a single seat in the last tribal council elections and moreover it recently suffered a vertical split and was divided under the leadership of two incumbent ministers.

The BJP is also not in a position to forge alliance with TIPRA Motha before the elections as its demands are divisive and would affect the Bengali votes. On the other hand, if a government is formed the TIPRA would not lose the slightest opportunity to exert pressure for a separate state.

So, the saffron party decided to strengthen its party organizationally and went for rejig in its tribal wing, Janajati Morcha and removed the president and MP Rebati Tripura.

After the reports from RSS and party top guns the central leadership decided for a change of guard in the party.

Deb is likely to be elected as President of the party, who was instrumental for ending the 25-years Marxist rule and known for leadership capability and also would be able to guide Saha, who is his close and trusted aide. FD JK