Manik Saha sworn in as Tripura CM, TIPRA warms to BJP

Union Home Minister Amit Shah promised constitutional solution to all issues facing the 14 lakh indigenous people, says TIPRA chief Pradyot Debbarma; party may extend issue-based support to BJP-led government in State

March 08, 2023 11:39 am | Updated March 09, 2023 12:23 am IST - AGARTALA/GUWAHATI

Manik Saha takes oath as the Tripura Chief Minister for the second time at a ceremony in Agartala on on March 8, 2023.

Manik Saha takes oath as the Tripura Chief Minister for the second time at a ceremony in Agartala on on March 8, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

BJP leader Manik Saha on Wednesday took charge as the Chief Minister of Tripura for the second time, but the spotlight was on the TIPRA Motha, a new regional party.

Soon after Governor Satyadeo Narayan Arya administered the oath of office and secrecy to Mr. Saha and eight more MLAs as Ministers in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah held a marathon meeting with TIPRA Motha chief Pradyot Bikram Manikya Debbarma and 13 MLAs of his party.

The meeting triggered speculation about the possibility of the TIPRA Motha joining the BJP-Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) alliance government; more so, after three Cabinet berths were left vacant.

The possible strength of the Council of Ministers in the 60-member House is 12.

Also Read | How free and fair were the 2023 Tripura Assembly elections?

Mr. Debbarma later said Mr. Shah assured the party of a constitutional solution to all issues related to the 14 lakh Tiprasa (indigenous) people of the State. “We have been assured that an interlocutor will be appointed within a timeframe for achieving a solution to all the problems relating to the sons of the soil,” he said.

The TIPRA Motha would not be part of the government now but may extend issue-based support and consider accepting “posts in the government” if the talks with the interlocutor go in the right direction, he added.

The BJP-IPFT combine won 33 seats, 11 fewer than in 2018. In a move to make the government durable, the BJP leadership has made attempts over the past three days to get support from the TIPRA Motha.

Some reports had earlier suggested that some of the newly elected TIPRA Motha MLAs had spoken with the party leadership on the need to participate in the government to ensure the development of the indigenous community.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, one of three CMs from the northeast to attend the swearing-in, BJP chief J.P. Nadda and TIPRA Motha president Bijay Kumar Hrangkhawl attended the meeting.

RSS-linked old guards ignored

Four former Ministers — Ramprasad Paul, Bhagaban Das, Manoj Kanti Deb and Ram Pada Jamatia — did not find space in the new cabinet. All except Mr. Paul, a long-time BJP leader, are facing various charges.

The four new faces in the Council of Ministers are Sudhanshu Das, first-timer Tinku Roy and Bikash Debbarma from the BJP and Shulka Charan Noatia from the IPFT.

Some RSS-linked old guards in the BJP who were not accommodated are Union Minister of State Pratima Bhoumik, Rampada Jamatia and Kishore Barman.

The BJP is yet to decide whether Ms. Bhoumik will return to the Central ministry or continue to engage in State politics. She won the Dhanpur Assembly seat, a CPI(M) stronghold that former Chief Minister Manik Sarkar had won four times in a row.

Mr. Jamatia is a former chief of the third largest indigenous community in Tripura, while Mr. Barman had helped the BJP expand its footprint in West Bengal before returning to his home State in 2021. He won the Nalchar seat.

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