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Trouble for BJP in Tripura? Party’s state observer reaches Agartala to meet with dissident MLAs and resolve dispute

Vinod Kumar Sonkar, newly appointed national secretary of the BJP and the party's Tripura observer, has reached Agartala on Saturday to resolve the matter. Sonkar is expected to meet BJP leaders, MLAs and Ministers individually in order to understand the reasons for the dissidence.

The dissidence within the BJP is Tripura does not appear to be on the verge of a resolution. Vinod Kumar Sonkar, newly appointed national secretary of the BJP and the party’s Tripura observer, has reached Agartala on Saturday to resolve the matter. Sonkar is expected to meet BJP leaders, MLAs and Ministers individually in order to understand the reasons for the dissidence.

Now, reports suggest that the dissident MLAs boycotted the felicitation programme for Sonkar on Saturday organised at Rabindra Bhawan in Agartala. The dissident MLAs, however, suggest that they were not invited to the event. The dispute has been underway for the past couple of months and the MLAs have met senior party leaders in Delhi and Guwahati.

Sonkar told the BJP leaders who had gathered, “Despite all odds, especially the Covid pandemic, the country has progressed in the past one and a half years under the current government during which the party has worked for all sections of society. Hence, the party has to follow suit.”

Reports of dissidence within the party in Tripura have been coming since the second week of October when a team of MLAs reached Delhi to meet BJP national president J.P. Nadda. The team is reported to include former state health minister Sudip Roy Barman, Asish Saha, Sushanta Choudhury, Ramprasad Pal and Diba Chandra Hrankhawl.

“Twenty-five of the 36 BJP MLAs now want a change, and a proper reshuffling in the council of ministers headed by Biplab Kumar Deb so that good governance could be delivered to people,” a member was reported to have told the media on condition of anonymity. The member alleged that “poor leadership and misrule” by Biplab Deb have ruined the BJP in Tripura, which is now “alienated from people, but lost ground could be restored with the delivery of good governance”.

Sushanta Choudhury, the former youth Congress president who had quit the party to join the BJP before the Assembly Elections in 2018, said on October, “Neither the government nor the party is moving in the right direction. All the pre-poll promises, mentioned in the party’s Vision Document, were made to be fulfilled. These should be reflected in action, but we are far away from reality. We want to highlight what is happening in the state.”

“We will apprise the central leadership of what is happening in Tripura. They would decide if they want to intervene in the issue. Our fight is not against the BJP’s ideology. We have full faith in the dynamic leadership of the prime minister and the home minister,” he added. The most prominent leader part of the dissidence is Sudip Roy Barman, son of the last Congress leader to have served as the Chief Minister in the state before the Left front stormed to power in 1993.

It is not clear yet if the dissident MLAs want to jump ship or what their precise numbers are. Some of them have said that the BJP will continue to have 36 MLAs in the state. Sonkar, meanwhile, said at the programme organised for him, “I am a prabhari only and will not be a burden to anyone. I came here to help the karyakartas ensure that the BJP remains in power everywhere – from the panchayat to Parliament.” He will meet the dissident MLAs on Sunday.

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