For the first time in 70 years, ever since princely state merged with the Indian Union, the BJP-led government in Tripura has informed that the birthday of the state’s last king Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya on August 19, will be observed as an official holiday from next year, a state official said on Friday.
An official from the General Administration Department of the Tripura government confirmed that the state government, taking cognisance of the immense contribution by state’s last king Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya, has decided to observe his birthday on 19 August as an official holiday from 2020.
The official said that King Bikram (1908-1947), who had ruled the state from 1923 to May 17, 1947, had decided to merge the then princely state of Tripura with the Indian Union by issuing a royal edict on April 28, 1947, and appointed Barrister Girija Shankar Guha as his domain’s representative in the Constituent Assembly.
In yet another mark of respect, the Central government, on the request of the state government last year renamed the Agartala airport after King Bikram. Bikram had in 1942, constructed the Agartala airport, earlier known as Singerbill Airport, which played a crucial role in the Second World War.
Last year, BJP went big on scale to observe the 110th birth anniversary of Tripura’s ruler Bir Bikram Kishore Deb Burman of the Manikya dynasty and had conveyed that it was trying to revive the royal history “distorted” during 24 years of Marxist rule and said efforts were on to honour King Bir Bikram with a posthumous Bharat Ratna.
The reign of the Manikya dynasty started with Ratna Manikya in 1280 and ended with Bir Bikram in 1947. His descendants have been titular, and their royal gloss began fading since the first communist government was formed in Tripura in 1978.
According to the BJP, the Marxist government was disrespectful of the state’s history by deciding to rename Ujjayanta Palace, the erstwhile royal residence of the Manikyas in state capital Agartala, to Tripura State Museum. Protests had, however, made the government tweak the name to Tripura State Museum back to Ujjayanta Palace.
The Left Front government had also rubbed the locals the wrong way by proposing to name Agartala Airport after Rabindranath Tagore. There was also a similar proposal to convert Agartala’s Raj Bhavan, also called Pushbanta Palace, into a museum and name it after Tagore.
However, it was Maharaja Birendra Kishore Manikya, Bir Bikram’s father who had built Pushbanta Palace. The Tripura kings had built Maharaja Bir Bikram College, Umakanta Academy, Bodhjung Boys’ Higher Secondary School, Maharani Tulsibati Girls’ Higher Secondary School in Agartala, Kirit Bikram Institution in Udaipur, Bir Bikram Institution in Dharmanagar, Radha Kishore Manikya Institution in Kailasahar and many other educational institutions.
Maharaja Radha Kishore Manikya, Bir Bikram’s grandfather, had provided financial assistance to Tagore, Viswa Bharati University at Shantiniketan, Bengal Technical Institute in West Bengal and to scientist Jagadish Chandra Bose.
The Marxist government had, however, denied these facts publicly, saying that the Manikya rulers had no development work to their credit.