We all know that the state of Tripura was discovered on March 3, 2018, the date on which the BJP swept to power in the Assembly elections. In fact, historians are still debating whether the region has always been a part of our republic or was added to the Indian Union in March 2018. Since that day, our unbiased ‘national’ media has risen to the challenge of distorting, misreporting and lying about nearly everything from this newly found territory of the Indian Republic.
On an average day, you can find the bold explorers from Delhi media houses on a mission to find ways to discredit the new BJP Chief Minister Biplab Deb. Because the truth rolls off our ‘national’ media like water off a duck‘s back.
It is almost like responsibility for Tripura has passed from the hands of an ‘honest’ CM to the hands of the ‘honest’ media.
What the media won’t tell you is that the new government in Tripura has been on a mission to end the state’s drug problem. In six months, they have seized 40,000 kilos of ganja and vast quantities of other drugs. There have been 204 people arrested and CM Biplab Deb claims that most of them are related to CPI(M). A claim that is hardly surprising.
So how did Tripura get to be this way, a smuggling corridor for drugs from Myanmar to India? Here is the true picture, for which I had to go to The Shillong Times, a media outlet that is decidedly less fancy than Delhi based channels:
The per capita income in Tripura grew from Rs 50,000 to Rs 80,000 (a 60% increase) in seven years despite no new industries and no real expansion in agricultural output. How was this miracle possible?
Who says Communists don’t believe in a higher power? In the case of Tripura, that ‘higher power’ might just have been druglords from Myanmar who wanted to export their product to India. The “honesty” of Manik Sarkar was possibly underwritten by drug smugglers over South East Asia. Nice.
And why did the druglords of Myanmar find such fertile ground in Tripura? Well, people need to eat, don’t they? And what other work was available in Tripura?
For decades, the people of Tripura were suffering a quadruple whammy: First of all, their state lies in India’s North East, which is often forgotten and neglected. Even today, some of India’s most prominent “liberal” faces like Shashi Tharoor refer to people from the North East as “hilarious” and “outlandish”.
Second, Tripura was an enclave, a tactical concession from the Congress to the Communists in order to secure the support of radical academics, intellectuals, NGOs, etc on the wider national ideological battlefield. Which means the state had no opposition to speak of.
Third, the rule of the CPI(M) brought with it political murder and thuggish intimidation of the usual kind that Communists carry out everywhere in the world. To be fair, the Communists are very open about their admiration for Stalin. They promise Stalinism openly and they deliver it as promised.
Fourth, because of the massive influence of the Communist Party among India’s journalists, the crimes of the Communists in Tripura not only go unreported but are actively covered up by the mainstream media.
And thus, for decades, as the Communists ruled over Tripura, the state and its economy rotted away. Unemployment stood at a staggering 19.7%, the highest in the country. There being no private economy, the state government was practically the only employer but paid near poverty level wages. State Government employees in Tripura were paid as per the Fourth Pay Commission. Just so you know, the Government of India convenes a Pay Commission approximately once every 10 years. This is why Government employees today are paid as per the Seventh Pay Commission. Except in Tripura. Over there employees were stuck with Fourth Pay Commission wages, i.e., 1987 salaries!
Have you wondered what life would be like if 20% of the people were unemployed and the lucky few who got jobs were receiving 1987 level salaries? People need to eat, don’t they?
And when drug smuggling is the only game in town, people living without employment and without hope have to do that to survive. Plus, when people are high on drugs, for a few moments, they might just catch a glimpse of the promised Communist utopia.
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.