The turn of events last month, wherein Tripura Congress president Pradyot Bikram Manikya Debbarma resigned from his post, could well be the beginning of the end of the Indian National Congress in the North-east. Evidently hurt, the royal scion lashed out on social media. He tweeted that after he resigned, he felt a sense of peace. In an emotional “tell-all” speech recorded on video, which he circulated on social media, Debbarma said that he had been a loyal party man for more over 19 years and felt pained by his decision to quit. In his speech, he recalled that over the years he felt suffocated and humiliated by party leaders, day in and day out.
He said, “I was not given the respect I deserve”. Without mincing words, Debbarma revealed that he was literally controlled and told “what to do and what not to do”. He said, “I cannot work in such an environment. I have not seen such filth, immorality or corruption.” The now former Congress state chief said that no party worker or leader ever “spent money from their own sources but only from Delhi.” He went on to add that “no money, no work” is what is practiced in the party and none of the Congress workers ever visit common people in villages.
He said, “They all work only through their mobile phones”. Debbarma pointed out Luizinho Falerio, the Congress general secretary in charge of the North-East, made the situation such that “he was not allowed to work.” He quoted an incident when hundreds of indigenous people from Tripura went to Delhi and took out a rally over the Kok Borok matter, Article 244(a) and other issues. He said that Falerio did not even meet them even though “the rally was held a mere 500 metres from his office. The general secretary did not turn up even after repeated requests.”
Apparently, the final stroke came when Falerio put an ultimatum before Debbarma to retain his post — withdraw his petition for a National Register of Citizens in Tripura. He said that he had demanded Falerio to give this to him in writing but that didn’t happen. Debbarma said, “I have been made by the Tripura people. If I am asked to go against my people, then no compromise. I choose my people over party. I cannot betray my people. I cannot compromise on my selfrespect.”
He also mentioned that he had personally conveyed the matter to the party High Command but no action was taken. At a press meet, Tripura Pradesh Congress Committee general secretary Sridam Debbarma, who also resigned, said that the party chief was forced to resign as he sought the implementation of the NRC and refused to compromise with a section of corrupt leaders. The TPCC general secretary claimed that the Congress could secure only 1.5 per cent votes in the Assembly elections last year but after the “maharaja” took over as president in February, organisational strength increased and the party managed to bag 30 per cent votes in the Lok Sabha polls.
Congress workers from Tripura stated that if Falerio continues to be at the helm, it would not be able to come back to power in the region in the next 50 years! Meanwhile, Pradyot Debbarma also said that the Congress appointed someone from Goa or Rajasthan to look after the North-east. “What do they know,” he asked. It is a well-known fact that the Congress is a highly structured party, which is run by a High Command. The hunt for a new national president after Rahul Gandhi’s resignation and failure to get a non-Gandhi to fill up the post, suggests that one cannot dare make a claim for it.
With no choice left, Sonia Gandhi was again made national president. On the other hand, this also tells one that all party workers/ leaders want to be under the umbrella of the Gandhi family without taking any responsibility. It seems they want to blame the Gandhis for any ill. Pradyot Debbarma’s resignation and subsequent revelations could well be a telling picture of the situation in the Congress. After such a huge setback in the recent LS election, the Congress should have re-strategised. Even when Debbarma complained about Falerio, the High Command did not seem to bother.
That is an indication that the party works from the comfort of air-conditioned rooms. It is another reason why the party has not won in Tripura in the last 24 years, said Debbarma. This also points to a situation where those close to Delhi, both geophysically and politically, are allegedly in control of the party. Debbarma said that the Congress doesn’t care about its workers on the ground and have been used to being in power without having to work for it.
The High Command must also realise that the “loyalists” left now, whom they heavily rely upon, are former chief ministers or Members of Parliament. They are not young anymore and moreover, have been accused of corruption in several cases. Given the scenario, one feels only the Congress themselves are to be blamed for this fall.
(The writer is a freelance journalist based in Imphal and Dimapur)