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Tripura BJP Sees Another Wave of Dissidence Against State Leadership

A letter, signed by 15 senior BJP leaders in the state, accuses state party chief Manik Saha of not playing an active enough role in the party's functioning.

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Agartala: The internecine squabble within the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Tripura is showing no signs of ending, at least for now. The party that lost two of its key legislators who are credited for its landslide victory in the 2018 assembly polls, is now witnessing another wave of dissidence against incumbent state party president Manik Saha.

At least 15 senior BJP leaders from the party’s ‘old guard’, including minister Ram Prasad Paul, have written a letter requesting Saha resign, claiming that the saffron party has severely suffered under his leadership.

“We all, state-level senior leaders of the BJP; those who spent almost 30 years with this organisation, (are) awfully sorry to inform that you in your last 26 months as president of the Tripura Pradesh BJP, the party has not only severely suffered in almost every Mandal of the state, but the (morale) of the karyakartas and (members of) elected government bodies, such as Panchayat members, MLAs etc., has gone down to such a low that they even don’t bother to leave their official posts (or the) BJP,” the letter reads.

The party leaders claimed that after Saha became the state party president in January, 2020, there have been parallel organisations running in almost every mandal between two factions of the BJP, calling it a matter of shame that the police have had to intervene in many cases to stop the BJP’s infighting in public.

“Things have became so because you have hardly visited any far off mandals and districts personally in last 26 months to evaluate why things are going wrong and neither (have you) offered any solution to solve those issues,” the leaders alleged in the letter.

They also blamed Saha for the ruling party’s loss in the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) election, which was held in April 2021.

Also read: Tripura: CPI(M) Says BJP Attacked Candidates for Urban Local Body Polls, Forced Withdrawal

Further, the leaders alleged that Saha became the BJP president in Tripura for “some unknown reason”, violating the organisation’s constitution which clearly mentions that no one can be made the state party president without having at least 10 year’s experience being a direct office bearer.

“Manik ji, now three elections are due within ten days, including the village council elections, by-elections in many constituency and the assembly election, 2023. Please (vacate) your chair now, in the larger interest and help the BJP to develop organisation and re-win every election of Tripura by vacating your post and helping a new, competent, experienced person to take over as BJP Tripura President in this critical hour, “the letter reads.

“Remember, without any proper election and by depriving competent, experienced and capable senior leaders, the BJP selected you as Tripura president. Manik Saha ji, now please step down from the president’s post and return the cost of the ‘milk of the mother’ to the BJP, which has fed you for the last 26 months,” the letter continues.

Speaking to The Wire, the erstwhile BJP president of the Sadar sub-division of the West Tripura district alleged that ever since Saha was appointed as the state party, the BJP started losing its ground.

The senior leader also alleged that the number of youths that are part of the BJP-backed ‘bike bahini‘  (literally, bike-borne force) has increased across the state and are responsible for committing acts of violence.

“We 15 (senior BJP leaders) have signed a letter requesting him to quit the seat. He has miserably failed and we have even lost the TTAADC poll. He should quit before the upcoming assembly election, which will be held in 2023. Since the last 35 years, we have been working for the BJP; we are not paratroopers,” the senior leader said.

The infighting within the party was on display on Wednesday, February 23, when BJP members in the state, led by deputy chief minister Jishnu Dev Varma and jail minister Ramprasad Paul, protested an alleged conspiracy of the opposition CPI(M).

However, on Tuesday evening, the state BJP issued a press statement in which they said that no permission had been afforded to the leaders to hold any rally on Wednesday. The leaders, however, claimed that the were not aware of the matter.

On August 29, 2021, former BJP MLA Sudip Roy Barman, who recently joined the Congress, had taken part in a meeting convened by ‘disgruntled BJP MLAs’. The agenda of the meeting was to draw the attention of party leadership in New Delhi to the “mistakes” made by the party’s Tripura unit and the functioning of the state government under the leadership of chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb.

At that meeting, many senior leaders of BJP who were reportedly side-lined after the BJP formed government in the state, joined the meeting along with Barman and other MLAs of the saffron party.