Tripura Vidhan Sabha election: Virtual interaction with CM Dr Manik Saha on politics

Virtual interaction with CM Dr Manik Saha before Tripura election

Ahead of the upcoming elections in the State of Tripura, I caught up with Chief Minister Dr Manik Saha during his interaction with social media influencers on January 15 night.

Question: Thank you Dr Saha for your time. You have recently announced a 12% hike in DA/DR which will directly impact 1.8 lakh employees and pensioners in the State.

The reception has been highly positive. It is a political masterstroke in a sense. Even though the BJP is on a strong footing, we have seen some party leaders defecting to the Opposition camp.

Virtual interaction of social media influencers with Dr Manik Saha

While there is no dearth of political opportunists, will such last-minute rebellion by some BJP leaders dent the political outcome of the party in the 2023 elections?

Response of Dr Manik Saha:

“This is like a ‘toad cycle’. First, they joined BJP, then defected to the Trinamool Congress, then, Congress and then CPIM. There must be some principle in politics.

You had seen the turnout of people when Amit Shah ji came to Dharmanagar (North Tripura district). Or the massive support received by JP Nadda ji in the West Tripura district during the ‘Jana Biswas Ratha’ Yatra.

People felt connected to us through our outreach programme. We have touched upon all sections of society through our schemes. People may come and go but we won’t compromise on our principles.

We are confident that the defection of some leaders will not impact the electoral outcome. You have seen the bypoll results, where we have bagged 3 out of 4 seats. We have the popular support.”

Question: One of the major concerns in recent times has been the rising anti-Bengali sentiment in Tripura, raked up by the likes of Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance (also called Tipra Motha).

We have seen demands for a separate homeland for the indigenous people (called Tipra land/ Greater Tipra land), even though they know it will never be a reality. Tripura has witnessed deadly ethnic tensions between Bengalis and tribal communities in the past.

We have gone past those dark days and have been able to maintain ethnic harmony in the State. How do you as a Chief Minister plan to win the trust of the indigenous people, diffuse the growing tensions and maintain harmony in the State?

Response of Dr Manik Saha:

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“The past ruling regimes in Tripura, be it the Congress or the Left, had exploited the tribal community and used them as a vote bank. Yes, I am aware of an increasing anti-Bengali sentiment among the indigenous communities, created by some vested interests.

I recently took part in a programme in Khumulung which falls under ADC (Autonomous District Council). A woman walked up to me and told me that it was the first time that she felt a sense of inclusivity.

Yes, a lot needs to be done to bridge the gap. We need better forms of communication and something concrete will be done in this regard in a few days’ time. This has been our top priority so that the indigenous people do not feel left out.”

 Dr Manik Saha has been faced with the mammoth task to ensure victory for the BJP. A dental surgeon by profession, he was called upon by the BJP high command to steer the party through its rough patch.

After assuming charge of the State, he began to unveil policies and schemes to win over the trust of the people. Dr Saha is an eloquent speaker, focused on the welfare of Tripura and its residents.

The excerpt was first published in Opindia on January 16, 2023.

#Update: BJP won the Tripura polls with an absolute majority. Manik Saha was sworn in as the CM on March 8 this year.