The All Congress Committee on Friday appointed a tribal leader to head the party in Tripura. Diba Chandra Hrangkhawl who is the lone tribal MLA in the opposition block was made the president while senior leader, Asish Kumar Saha, was made the working president of State Pradesh Congress Committee.

Mr. Hrangkhawl would replace outgoing PCC President Sudip Roy Burman who resigned from the post owing moral responsibility after party’s debacle in February 14 Assembly elections. He would be the second tribal to hold the position after Manmohan Debbarma (1971-72).

Congress party sources here said AICC general secretary Luizinho Faleiro who is now responsible to oversee party affairs in the entire north eastern region, except Assam, played a key role in new appointments. Many blamed Mr. Faleiro, who was the party’s central observer during assembly elections, for the humiliating defeat to the CPI(M) and was even mistreated by irate workers at the Congress Bhavan here.

A senior state Congress leader, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed they got the indication that former PCC chief Sudip Roy Burman would be made the leader of Congress legislature party viz a viz leader of Opposition. Ratan lal Nath, leader of Opposition for the past 10 years, is currently holding the post as a temporary arrangement.

The Congress has 10 legislators in a 60-member Assembly. Welcoming the changes, Tripura Youth Congress president Susanta Choudhury said the appointment of a tribal leader as the party chief is an honour to all citizens of the State, which has a 33 per cent tribal population. “We don’t have much base in tribal areas which is one of reasons for our repeated election defeats,” he stated.

Most of the senior leaders of faction riddled Congress in the State refused to comment on the new appointments. “Everyone knows that the new president and the working president are close to Mr. Burman and Mr. Faleiro. The party is unlikely to gain much from new setup,” said one of them.