No Trouble For Deb: After Being Disciplined By Central Leadership, 'Rebel' Tripura MLAs Say They Travelled To Delhi To Only 'Discuss Organisational Matters'

No Trouble For Deb: After Being Disciplined By Central Leadership, 'Rebel' Tripura MLAs Say They Travelled To Delhi To Only 'Discuss Organisational Matters'Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb. (Arvind Yadav/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Snapshot
  • The ‘rebel’ legislators, most of them defectors to the BJP from the Congress, sought appointments with the BJP national president J.P.Nadda, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

    But they got to meet only BJP national general secretary (organisation) B.L.Santhosh, and reportedly received an earful from the latter.

A group of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLAs from Tripura travelled to Delhi late last week to seek removal of state chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb for his alleged ‘misgovernance’ and ‘high-handedness’.

The ‘rebel’ legislators, most of them defectors to the BJP from the Congress, sought appointments with the BJP national president J.P.Nadda, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

But they got to meet only BJP national general secretary (organisation) B.L.Santhosh, and reportedly received an earful from the latter.

The Congress turncoats, led by Sudip Roy Barman, had been unhappy with chief minister Deb for being sidelined.

Sudip Roy Barman is the son of former Congress chief minister Samir Ranjan Barman and was in the Congress before defecting to the Trinamool along with five other Congress legislators in 2016. He joined the BJP along with the five turncoat MLAs in August 2017.

Roy Burman was made the health minister when the BJP unseated the CPI(M)-led Left Front in Tripura in early 2018. But he was sacked by chief minister Deb in May 2019 for ‘anti-party activities’.

BJP leaders in Tripura told Swarajya that Sudip has been eyeing the CM’s chair since his induction into the cabinet and has been encouraging dissidence against Deb.

“He has been trying to build a coterie around himself by fanning disaffection against the chief minister. He has also harmed the party’s image,” said a senior BJP office-bearer who is an old RSS hand.

What Roy Barman, 54, forgot was that the BJP is no Congress and far from encouraging dissidence and indiscipline, the party leadership does not even tolerate such activities, said the BJP leader who did not want to be named.

The Congress, especially in the Northeast, has been wracked by factionalism.

All Congress chief ministers have faced periodic revolts led by ambitious and disgruntled MLAs who have frequently traveled to Delhi to meet the party ‘high command’ or members of the Gandhis’ inner circle.

The plot has always run like this: after such shows of dissidence, the Congress ‘high command’ deputes a loyalist as an ‘observer’ to the ‘troubled’ state.

The ‘observer’ confabulates with the factions within the Congress and ultimately brokers peace; the peace deal is actually some loaves, or maybe crumbs, given to the dissidents.

That ‘peace’ would, of course, be a short-lived one. Because dissidence against chief ministers and state leaders and factionalism within the party was, and is, actually fanned by the insecure party ‘high command’ in order to stay relevant and in power.

This is more so in the case of popular or powerful chief ministers and regional satraps who can pose a threat to the hegemony of the Gandhis, especially the entitled Rahul Gandhi.

According to the Congress ‘high command’ copybook, encouraging dissidence is an effective way to keep regional satraps in check.

But the BJP is an altogether different party that puts a premium on discipline. There is no ‘party high command’-- a dynasty helming the party--which retains its relevance through the intra-party divisions it creates.

And that is what the ‘rebel’ MLAs from Tripura forgot. They expected the BJP central leadership to give them time, take them seriously and replace chief minister Biplab Deb or at least caution him.

Nothing of that sort happened. They were told that Nadda is busy with the Bihar elections and would not be able to meet them, and there was no question of meeting Prime Minister Modi or Amit Shah.

They got a few minutes with B.L.Santosh, who told them very sternly that indiscipline would not be tolerated and they would have to serve the party in a dedicated manner.

The rebels were also told by Santosh that they would have to work under chief minister Deb and there was zero chance of his removal.

The issue of Sudip Roy Barman being re-inducted into the state cabinet would depend on his good behaviour and for now, all the rebels would have to work dedicatedly for the party. Rewards, if any, would follow later.

The chastened and red-faced rebels then told the media that they had gone to Delhi not to demand a change in chief minister, but to “discuss organisational matters” with the party’s central leadership.

But the rebels from Tripura should have learnt a thing or two from the manner in which the BJP central leadership handled the political crisis in Manipur a few months ago (read this and this).

By dealing sternly with the rebels from Tripura, the BJP central leadership has sent an apt message to all state party units.

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