Earlier this week, the cabinet for the first-ever BJP Government in Tripura headed by Biplab Deb was expanded with the induction of three ministers including two of the members from its rival camp. With the induction of the three new ministers – Ramprasad Paul, Bhagaban Das and Sushanta Chowdhury – the total size of the cabinet has risen to 11.
Ramprasad Paul and Sushanta Chowdhary belonged to the dissident camp led by former health minister Sudip Roy Burman. With the induction, Biplab has made a smart move to avert the dissident-driven crisis faced by the BJP-led alliance government in the north-eastern state.
Wooed by Trinamool strongman Mukul Roy, Sudip Roy Burman, the former senior leader of the Congress in Tripura, was inducted into the Bengal-based party (the Trinamool) in 2016. Thus, After Mukul Roy, a prime accused in the Saradha scam, jumped ship from the Trinamool to the BJP in November 2017, Roy Burman also followed him into the saffron party.
Since then, Sudip Roy has been dreaming of becoming the chief minister of Tripura. But, with Biplab Deb elected as the Chief Minister, Sudip had to adjust with the designation of health minister in the BJP-IPFT government in March 2018. Sudip could never bring himself to work under Biplab Deb and started fanning dissidence against Deb and became the lightning rod for all those who got disgruntled within the party.
Considering his anti-party activities, he was later dropped from the state cabinet while the portfolios held by him were allocated to Chief Minister Biplab Deb and his deputy. Sudip Roy had earlier claimed that he was able to satisfy the public with his work but not the chief minister.
Refuting the claims, Mr Deb had said, “It is a different issue that who satisfies whom but the public, party and the organization should be satisfied with one’s activity.”
Earlier this month, Burman had also said that they have identified certain “mistakes” of the Biplab Deb government about which they will inform the BJP central leadership. He further went on to claim that the Biplab Deb government was plagued by “bad governance”, which could lead to the party’s defeat in the 2023 polls.
With such turmoil arising in Tripura BJP, Biplab Deb stepped up with masterstroke to stem the dissidents in the party and inducted two ministers Ramprasad Paul and Sushanta Chowdhury who belonged to the group of Sudip Roy.
Sushanta Chowdhury debuted in the 2018 Assembly elections from the Majlishpur seat that was considered to be a Left bastion after defeating CPI(M) heavyweight Manik Dey. He grew close to Sudip Roy Burman after chief minister Deb sacked Sudip from the cabinet. Ramprasad Pal, an old-timer in the party, also enjoyed the support of Sudip as well as a majority of office-bearers and workers of the party.
Stemming the dissidents with a move to induct them into the cabinet, Biplab has made it quite obvious that no other leader except him could have handled the turmoil in a better way.
However, there is one more vacancy in the state council of ministers and it has triggered a lot of speculation with some political observers saying that efforts are on to placate Sudip Roy Burman and induct him into the cabinet. Sudip, however, is not ready to work under Biplab Deb and said, “Under Biplab Deb, the government is a one-man show and all Ministers are irrelevant. I cannot sacrifice my self-respect and work under him. I cannot accept his policies and style of working.”
Moreover, only 19 of the BJP’s 36 MLAs were present at the swearing-in ceremony of newly inducted ministers. The prominent absentees included four dissident MLAs–Sudip Roy Burman, Asish Kumar Saha, Diba Chandra Hrangkhawl and Asish Das.
Deb, however, has his loyalists and defenders too. Sukumar Debnath, a loyalist, told Swarajya, “The chief minister’s top priority is to ensure clean and good governance and that is why he keeps a watch on the functioning of all ministers and bureaucrats. He does not allow any foul or corrupt practices. Some people who may have wanted to make money are unhappy, but the masses are happy.”
“The chief minister is keen on timely completion of projects and proper implementation of all schemes and welfare measures. That is why he interacts closely with officers of all departments. Some ministers may resent that, but the CM’s motive is above board. Had all the ministers been delivering, the CM would not have had to intervene”, he added.
Biplab Deb is popular among the masses and has a clean reputation. He is well-liked by the people of the state. Ever since he came to power, the crime rate has fallen drastically in Tripura and the state has witnessed massive development as far as aspects like education, industry and connectivity are concerned. Thus, it can be said that Biplab is by far the best Chief Minister for Tripura.