Manik Saha said Sunday his main focus as Tripura’s new Chief Minister would be to further developmental activities started by the BJP-led state government and strengthen the law and order situation in the state.
Saha made the comments after being administered the oath of office by Governor Satyadeo Narain Arya at Raj Bhavan. The 69-year-old was named as the chief minister by the Bharatiya Janata Party in a surprise turn of events on Saturday after Biplab Kumar Deb was made to step down from the top post in the state just a year ahead of the Tripura Assembly elections.
While not explaining why he felt the law and order situation in Tripura needed strengthening, especially when his predecessor Deb boasted of reducing severe and political crimes, the new chief minister said he would work under the guidelines of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to develop the state. “Our government under Biplab Deb ji has taken the state ahead. We shall work to continue the work, work for the people and bring in development under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi… Development, development, development. I shall take these works ahead. I shall work to ensure a strong law and order situation,” said Saha.
The dental surgeon turned politician also said his experience of running the BJP’s party organisation would help him in his role as the Tripura chief minister.
The appointment of Saha, the state party president and a Rajya Sabha member, for the job of the chief minister came as a surprise to everyone, including state ministers and leaders in the BJP. There were a series of protests against Deb during his four-year stint as CM, including the ‘Biplab Hatao, Tripura Bachao’ slogan and rebellions from his cabinet colleague Sudip Roy Barman, who after being dropped from the cabinet exited the party.
However, why Deb survived in his position amidst severe protests and was dropped when the administration was running smoothly is still unclear. Since Saturday, all BJP functionaries, including Deb, said he was replaced to allow him to work for the party’s political organisation and ensure its victory in the 2023 Assembly election.
Union minister of state for social empowerment and justice Pratima Bhoumik also said on Sunday that the decision to replace Deb was made by the BJP’s central leadership “to strengthen the party and win in 2023”. Bhoumik also said as “party foot soldiers”, she and everyone else would abide by the decision, even as protests from ministers in the state cabinet surfaced on Saturday against Saha’s nomination as CM.
On how the BJP expects Saha to run the state as its chief minister, especially since he had to be replaced from the helm of affairs of Tripura to ensure the party’s victory in polls due next year, Bhoumik said she wouldn’t be able to answer the question.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Jishnu Dev Varma and Cooperative minister Ramprasad Paul joined Saha’s swearing-in ceremony after he took the oath.
Paul had publicly rebelled against Saha’s appointment on Saturday and said he wouldn’t work for the BJP. Asked if he stood by his protests, Paul said, “This happens sometimes. This is a democratic party. Sab chalta hai. Jo hota hai, discipline mein hi hota hai… I am working for the party. I am here to serve the party”.