Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Saturday stepped down from his position after meeting Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president J.P. Nadda and Union Home Minister Amit Shah during a two-day trip to New Delhi.
Mr. Deb made the announcement after submitting his resignation to Governor S.N. Arya at the Raj Bhavan in Agartala. The State is slated to go to Assembly elections in 2023.
Manik Saha, the BJP State unit president and lone Rajya Sabha MP from Tripura, was elected as legislature party leader at a meeting held at the Chief Minister’s official residence. Senior BJP leaders Bhupender Yadav and Vinod Tawde were present as observers at the meeting. After being named the next Chief Minister of the State, Dr. Saha told reporters that he “was a common worker of the party and will continue to be so”.
Mr. Deb has now become the fifth Chief Minister to be replaced in a BJP-ruled State after B.S. Yeddyurappa in Karnataka, Trivendra Singh Rawat and Tirath Singh Rawat in Uttarakhand, and Vijay Rupani in Gujarat. Mr. Deb had been appointed the Chief Minister after the BJP stormed to power in 2018, ending 25 years of Left Front rule in the State.
According to senior party sources, the quick change in leadership in BJP-ruled States, especially with Assembly polls round the corner, shows the long shadow of the party’s defeat in Jharkhand being cast on the continuation of CMs. “Earlier, the high command was conservative in terms of changing Chief Ministers, but it cost the BJP the State of Jharkhand, where internal strife did it in in 2019,” said a senior party leader.
The Tripura unit was also facing discord with Mr. Deb’s growing unpopularity as CM. Two sitting MLAs, Sudip Roy Barman and Ashish Saha, had also quit the party in February and joined the Congress. “Tripura is important in ideological terms as the BJP defeated the Left there, a first for it. This has been brewing for a while,” the source said.
Mr. Deb said with the 2023 Assembly election approaching, the party had decided to give him organisational responsibilities as it wanted a responsible organiser to take charge of the State’s affairs. “Because a government can only be formed if the organisation is strong,” he said.
“Party is above all. I am a loyal worker of the BJP. I hope I have done justice to the responsibilities that were given to me — whether it was as BJP State president or as Tripura Chief Minister. I have worked for the overall development of Tripura and to ensure peace for the people of the State,” Mr. Deb said.
Scuffle at party meet
The legislature party meeting had witnessed a scuffle among MLAs after Minister Ram Prasad Paul voiced his protests when Mr. Deb proposed Mr. Saha’s name to succeed him. Mr. Paul broke a few chairs before the situation was brought under control, party sources said. Mr. Paul wanted Deputy Chief Minister Jishnu Dev Varma, a member of the erstwhile Tripura royal family, to be named the next Chief Minister.
(With PTI inputs)