By Santosh Kumar Pathak
New Delhi, Oct 10 Amid efforts by the Trinamool Congress to expand its influence nationally, especially in the northeast, after it held of a massive BJP attempt to dethrone it West Bengal in the 2021 elections has raised questions whether it can replicate its success in Tripura. However, the BJP is unfazed at the Mamata Banerjee party’s efforts.
In a chat with IANS, BJP’s national General Secretary and Tripura in charge Vinod Sonkar weighed in whether the Trinamool offers a challenge in the state, and whether the party’s recent trend of changing Chief Ministers in Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Gujarat will be repeated by in Tripura as well.
Following are excerpts of the interview:
Q: The Trinamool has announced it will contest the upcoming civic polls in Tripura? How big a threat do you think it will turn out to be?
A: Everyone has the right to contest elections in a democracy. The Trinamool is not contesting elections in Tripura for the first time. It has previously contested elections in the state during 2018 as well as in 2019 wherein it lost its deposit. Now if the Trinamool wants to contest elections once again, it is free to contest next year, too. It poses no real threat to the BJP.
Q: But the Trinamool is making claims of wresting power in Tripura. Sushmita Dev, once known as a party leader close to the Congress high command, recently joined it. Party supremo Mamata Banerjee has given the responsibility of increasing the support base in Tripura to her nephew Abhishek Banerjee?
A: I will reiterate again that in a democracy any person is free to contest elections anywhere. Everyone has the right to dream. The Trinamool had previously fought elections in Tripura with full preparation but its party candidates lost their deposit on all seats they had contested. In Tripura, a corruption-free, crime-free and development-driven BJP government is functioning under the leadership of Chief Minister Biplab Deb. The Trinamool stands no chance of winning the upcoming polls in Tripura.
Q: Prashant Kishor, who is a master election strategist, has been roped in by the Trinamool who defeated the BJP in West Bengal. Now with the help of Kishor, Mamata Banerjee wants to defeat the ruling BJP in Tripura as well?
A: BJP has come to power in Tripura by defeating the Communist Party of India-Marxist which ruled the state for the last 25 years. Now the saffron party is ready to fight Prashant Kishor. Let us see whether the combination of party organisation and the state government wins the elections or any particular individual.
Q: In 2018, the BJP formed the government in Tripura by defeating the CPI-M which ruled the state for 25 consecutive years. Chief Minister Biplab Deb has been running the government in Tripura for last 43 months. How would you rate the performance of the BJP government under his leadership?
A: The hope and expectation with which the people of Tripura voted the BJP to power, today all those dreams are coming true – whether it is related to buying agricultural produce from farmers at the minumum support price (MSP), taking strict action against the mafia rule, providing employment to youth, developing state infrastructure etc, the BJP government has done commendable work on every front.
Earlier, people with small amount of money planned to buy a two-room flat in Kolkata but with curbing of corruption and crime by the Biplab Deb government, this culture has changed and now people from Bengal want to come and settle in Tripura. The speed of development which had been stalled in the state for 25-30 years is taking place rapidly after the BJP came to power.
Q: The BJP is going through a massive churn these days. The BJP governments have also changed sitting Chief Ministers in several states. In Tripura too, such speculation is cropping up. What would you say on this?
A: There is going to be no change of power in Tripura. The BJP government under the leadership of Chief Minister Biplab Deb is doing a commendable job in the state and in future it will continue to run under his able leadership. The BJP will contest the upcoming Assembly elections under Deb’s leadership.
Q: With less than one-and-a-half years left for the Assembly elections in Tripura? Who according to you will be the main party challenging the BJP in the state — CPI-M, Congress or the TMC?
A: We will enter the electoral fray highlighting the work done by BJP government for last five years and as far as the party posing a direct fight to the BJP is concerned, it is too early to say anything about it as one is already seeing in several states across the country, how the opposition parties are coming together to defeat the BJP. New political equations are being formed in Tripura as well.
So who will fight against the BJP, only time will tell but at this juncture I would like to say that BJP is fully prepared ahead of the forthcoming Assembly elections. Whether the opposition parties contest elections separately or form alliances, the BJP will win again and form the government in Tripura.