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Fissures in Tripura BJP continue as former CM Biplab Deb sidelined

Three of the four assembly seats that had gone for by-polls in Tripura recently, may have come to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) fold, but the feud within the saffron brigade in the north-eastern state, which will go to State legislative assembly election early next year (that is within next few months), seems far from over.

Fissures in Tripura BJP continue as former CM Biplab Deb sidelined
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Fissures in Tripura BJP continue as former CM Biplab Deb sidelined 

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Three of the four assembly seats that had gone for by-polls in Tripura recently, may have come to the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) fold, but the feud within the saffron brigade in the north-eastern state, which will go to State legislative assembly election early next year (that is within next few months), seems far from over. The rift, which is widely believed to have caused a sudden replacement of the State Chief Minister a month ago, resurfaced during the customary visit of the NDA's Presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu's to the State in order to introduce herself and seek votes from the State legislators. Call it from dais to diaspora or something else, at the introductory meeting of the BJP's State legislators, there was no place for the former Chief Minister Biplab Deb on the dais. He had to keep himself happy, sitting amongst the group of ordinary legislators, on the other side of the dais. It was done apparently showing grounds of protocol. However, there is no such protocol that stops Deb to be seated on the dais.

The incident, understandably, did not go down well amongst the followers of Deb within the State unit of the party. Although Deb did not show any disappointment or displeasure publicly, the disgruntled camp has already taken up the issue with the party's national president J P Nadda. In fact, they are also planning to go and camp in Delhi to meet Nadda and the Union Home Minister Amit Shah to escalate things further.

When Deb was replaced by the low-key medical practitioner Manik Saha, a late entrant into the party and originally a Congressman, for the top job, many believed and many would have loved to believe that it was just a temporary arrangement and Deb would be given back his empire very soon. But that belief could not be backed up with any such empirical or historical evidence, whatsoever. Then there were many who thought that for all practical purposes, it would be a proxy Deb government of the sort, run by a soft-spoken gentleman, whose sudden nomination to the most coveted post was vetted by none other than Deb himself. But it was possibly not to happen that way either.

The internal rift in the party was also reflected in selection of the candidate for Agartala, the most prestigious of the four constituencies that went to polls recently. Ignoring the winnability factor was completely given a go by and a relatively weak candidate was fielded against the Congress strongman and five times seating legislator from the constituency. It was walkover of the sort to Sudip Roy Burman, who recently switched camp from BJP to Congress (his original party).

At this point, there are three options to pacify the aggrieved camp. First, offering Deb a Rajya Sabha berth in Manik Saha's place and then making him a central minister, possibly replacing Pratima Bhowmick. Second, making Deb the State party president. And third, giving him some concrete assurance that he will be party's Chief Ministerial face in the 2023 polls and he will be given back his lost post, in case he can win it for the party the second time. Otherwise, the frictions will only grow in the days to come. Whether political opponents can cash in on that, remains to be seen.

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