After 25 years of Leftist stability, there is distinctly a rift in the lute within the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Tripura. As much is the fineprint of the change of guard in Agartala. At the intervention of the state BJP president, Manik Saha, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb has been replaced by Saha himself in the midst of increasing unhappiness with the current government. After BS Yediyurappa in Karnataka, Trivendra Singh Rawat and Tirath Singh Rawat (in Uttarakhand both), and Vijay Rupani in Gujarat, Deb is the fifth BJP chief minister to be replaced without completing the full five-year term. It appears that the BJP has once again depended on its praxis of replacing a Chief Minister just before the Assembly election to counter anti-incumbency. It would be pertinent to recall that this was done in Uttarakhand where the BJP broke the trend of the ruling party being voted out. The party has been less than explicit in spelling out the reason why it has replaced the Chief Minister. Yet the national leadership will be in a position to project a new man at the helm before the first vote is cast in Agartala and elsewhere in the landlocked state that borders Bangladesh. A feeling of disgruntlement within the BJP had
exacerbated over time in Tripura. The party’s leadership in the state had realized that it could scarcely face the electorate given the degree of discontent among the party leaders. More basically, the party was losing its appeal in the state, which arguably points to an erosion in its support base. It will still be open to question whether a mere change at the helm will shore up its image. On the contrary, the CPI-M is on course to refurbish its image. As a senior BJP leader has remarked, there were inputs that the party’s popularity was on the wane and that the CPI-M, the principal opposition, was “gaining ground.” Mr Deb, the outgoing CM, is said to have met the Union home minister, Amit Shah, and the national BJP president, JP Nadda. The directive to the state leadership to replace him must have come from on high. He was reportedly asked to step down to clear the way for another leader to succeed. The compulsion behind the change of the Chief Minister becomes obvious from the fact that the party, by its own admission, wants a “responsible organizer” to take charge of its affairs.
“A government can only be formed if the organization is strong.” The selection of Saha, a dental surgeon by profession, came as a surprise of sorts as he had been elected to the Rajya Sabha from the state’s lone seat barely two months ago. The fact of the matter must be that Tripura is on the turn… as it wasn’t under 25 years of rule by the Communist Party of India (Marxist).