With Tripura Assembly elections just a year away, the state unit of the BJP is witnessing a good amount of churning. While two of its MLAs joined the Congress recently, the Trinamool Congress, too, is looking for an opportunity to gain footing on the ground.
With a significant number of tribal voters, and BJP’s ally Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) looking out for itself, the party believes development works done by the government will ensure that tribal voters don’t take their support elsewhere.
In an exclusive interview to News18.com, Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb touches upon trouble in alliance, women-centric policies and the opposition parties’ attempt to wrest the state.
The IPFT looks dissatisfied in the alliance. The BJP, too, is not averse to seeking support from Pradyut Debbarma’s party TIPRA Moth in the tribal belt. Has the matter settled with your ally?
The Bharatiya Janata Party has a clear majority. Despite that, we follow alliance dharma. We gave the IPFT two cabinet berths and that too with important departments like tribal, forest, handloom, fisheries and revenue. Atal Bihari Vajpayee taught us how to take allies along. He commanded the leadership of 26 allies. We never desert our allies. Allies may decide to leave us, but we try to work together.
One does not govern to satisfy allies or others. One should govern to satisfy people and to fulfil the wishes and needs of the people. The policy of appeasement followed by earlier governments has harmed the country. Tripura is the only government in the country that stands with people from birth to death. We give Rs 2,000 to the families of the deceased as well.
We got 40 votes in our Rajya Sabha elections and this shows that our alliance is intact.
There has been talk of the BJP being in discussion with Pradyut Debbarma of TIPRA Motha despite him being a political opponent of your ally IPFT on tribal seats.
Those who believe in our ideology can be with us. He (Pradyut) is in a different party. We have done so much development in tribal areas. Roads are being built.
Tripura has got a Forensic Science University that is set to be a game-changer. Not just the students of our country, but Laos, Singapore and other adjoining nations will send their students to Tripura. This will contribute to the development of the state.
We will also be getting one airport in Kailashahar. Agartala is also going to get an international airport soon.
You say your policies are women-centric. Can you elaborate on it?
We have approved 33% reservation in government jobs in Tripura. We know till the time women are made the owner of the land, domestic abuse will continue and there will be no women empowerment. For properties registered in women’s name, the stamp duty will be 2% lower. We are promoting start-ups and half of the budget has been reserved for women.
We will build women’s working hostels because women can’t live in anybody’s home. They may feel insecure or uncomfortable. We have a strict policy on transfers when it comes to women.
You are looking at bypolls in the state and the TMC too has become active. What is your strategy to ensure that the BJP wins these bypolls as losing them will send a wrong message?
I won’t even take the name of the person or the party. Their hopes to dent the BJP in Tripura were punctured. Those who left the BJP for Congress went alone. We worked on HIRA model. Their lone councillor has joined the BJP. Their ‘diyas, mombattis’ won’t work here. Here, Modi’s flashlight works. I see 16 MLAs in opposition, but I am not sure the opposition will get even that many seats in next elections.
Who is your main opposition and is the Left still relevant?
I do not bother myself about the Left’s ideology because they have an anti-national mentality. They haven’t changed at all. After coming to power, I managed to get them to observe Gandhi Jayanti but they still haven’t changed. If they need to celebrate a birthday, they will do it for Stalin, Lenin. I do not want them to celebrate our leaders but should they not celebrate Indian leaders like Jyoti Basu and other former chief ministers? Can they not pay them tributes on their birth anniversaries? They do not accept Indian Communists yet.
Those who are still with the Left are so unfortunate. International Communists have never recognised Indian Communists.
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