Interview | 'In Tripura, TMC Is Working to Keep BJP in Power': State Congress Chief

Pijush Kanti Biswas says those who have left Congress for TMC had been a burden on the party and were largely "inactive."

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Agartala: A number of Tripura Congress leaders and workers have jumped ship and joined Trinamool Congress (TMC) recently. Buoyed by its victory in the West Bengal assembly polls, the TMC is trying to expand its base in the state.

But Tripura Pradesh Congress chief Pijush Kanti Biswas says that the TMC is heading in the wrong direction and while a “few people” may be leaving the party to join TMC, it will not affect the Congress in the state.

However, a host of Congress leaders, including former minister Prakash Das, former MLA Subal Bhowmik, Youth Congress working president Santanu Saha, former municipal councillor Panna Deb, have shifted loyalties to TMC.

Below are excerpts of The Wire’s chat with Biswas.

Why do you think Congress party leaders and workers joining TMC will not affect your party? 

My sources have pointed out that, according to a survey conducted by I-PAC (Indian Political Action Committee), TMC can’t do anything in the upcoming state assembly elections in 2023.

This is not the first time that TMC will fight the election in the state, they have also tried in the past. But, whenever they lose in the polls, TMC cuts ties with the state.

After the West Bengal election, TMC has started sending all of its MPs and ministers here. I have never seen any senior leaders or senior workers of Tripura with them.

Former MLA Subal Bhowmik (of the Congress) changed parties seven times; now, he has joined TMC from Congress. He was not active in the Congress party for the last 18 months along with former minister Prakash Das. Even the Youth Congress working president Santanu Saha was inactive.

Do you think those who left the Congress were a burden to your party?  

Yes. Those people were a burden to our party. And many leaders and workers are happy to see that they have left the party. They had no role in Congress and had never worked for the people.

Even the NSUI (National Students Union of India) president Rakesh Das who also joined the TMC recently never worked for the students. Real Congress party workers didn’t leave. Those who joined the TMC were all inactive in Congress.

Also read: Tripura Emerges Flashpoint as TMC Kicks Off Expansion Plans

Is TMC trying to break the Congress in Tripura ahead of the 2023 assembly poll?

TMC is indeed trying to break the base of Congress in Tripura. But they do not understand that to oust the BJP, the opposition has to be strong, which they (TMC) can’t do alone here. But I don’t think TMC can break the base of Congress by inducting a few of our inactive leaders and workers.

The people who joined TMC from Congress are not big leaders. They were very inactive. And no big leader and active worker have joined TMC.

They (TMC) failed to break the BJP and CPI(M)…TMC is walking on the wrong path and they are trying to keep the BJP in power. Those who came here are not aware of the soil of Tripura. People are now against BJP and the way TMC is working convinces us that they are working as an agent of the BJP.

A few people leaving the party is not going to affect Congress. They are isolated from the party. They were a burden on Congress. So, we don’t think we will allow them again into the party.

Any possibility of an alliance with any other party, including TMC, ahead of the 2023 assembly polls?

It is clear that TMC can’t do anything in the state. If they want to do something, then they have to join Congress. And if TMC comes into an alliance with Congress, then those who have joined TMC from Congress have made a wrong decision.

Our main enemy is the BJP, and CPI(M) is nowhere. Our first agenda is to oust the BJP from power, for which we are ready to go in alliance with any anti-BJP parties. Talks are going on.

What would be your agenda in the upcoming assembly polls?

Our agenda is to unseat the BJP. Another agenda for the assembly poll is to solve the unemployment problem in the state. In Tripura, unemployment is the major issue. Giving a government job will not solve the issue, for which a roadmap is necessary. BJP has made many promises, including jobs, but nothing has been done.

We will move high court if the government doesn’t announce the municipal poll immediately. BJP has understood that they will fail if they fight any election, and infightings are going on in the saffron party, so they are trying to kill time to solve these. If assembly polls can be held in other states amidst the pandemic, then why can’t municipal polls be held here?

Why do you think the Congress party has failed to win a single seat in the recently held Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council election?

The party feels due to our inaction in the district councils, we failed to win any seats. But, I believe that the party has gained its power in the district council.

Congress workers have given their votes to TIPRA, led by royal scion Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarma to oust the BJP, as they felt that the strength of Congress in the district council is not so powerful.

Our chief Sonia Gandhi has said that when Congress comes to power in Delhi, the Tripura district council will get direct funding, which is necessary to empower the indigenous groups. Tipraland and Greater Tipraland are not going to work for development.