Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, in a conversation with Manish Anand, asserts that the BJP government will rewrite history to weed out Leftist ideology, besides reaffirming his belief in the existence of the Internet during the time of Mahabharata war and his zero tolerance for illegal Rohingya immigrants.
Your remarks on the existence of the Internet in the Mahabharata period appear to have been ridiculed by your critics.
The Mahabharata, Ramayana and Upanishads are at the core of our culture. Sanjay being able to see happenings 50 km away while sitting in a palace indeed points to the existence of some technique of distant communication. Today’s Internet proves that it existed in the times of Mahabharata. Those who ridicule our culture cannot digest the scientific and technological marvels of our past. Such people have taken offence at my statement.
You’re one of the youngest CMs in the country. Modi government is laying stress on imparting skills to youth with the aim of technological innovation. Even if the Internet existed in the Mahabharata period, it was certainly not rediscovered in India. What message do you wish to give to youth?
The left corrupted the education system in the country. Kerala and Tripura have the highest literacy rates. The left focused on quantitative education. When former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi brought computers, the Left propagated the propaganda that everything would be destroyed. We are ending this Left culture. Tripura is taking the lead in the technical skilling of youth. Our government has set out for rapid digitalisation.
The BJP victory in Tripura set off destruction of Lenin statues in Agartala. What sort of revision in textbooks can be expected?
The history books in Tripura began with photographs of Stalin. Children were taught about Lenin and Stalin. The Left wanted to perpetuate its ideology through school education. We will change all such things. We will adopt the NCERT books. The states are allowed to include local content in 10 per cent of the syllabus. We would be aiming for qualitative educational outcomes.
What other changes are you bringing about?
I was surprised to see that the desk of the chief minister at the secretariat didn’t have the national flag. Even Tripura Bhavan in the national capital didn’t have the national flag. I was shocked. I instantly directed for national flags at both places. The thoughts of the youth are no more aligned with the Left ideology. The youth rejected the Left.
There are reports of arrests of Rohingyas in Tripura. How would your government deal with Rohingya immigrants?
We cannot tolerate the illegal Rohingya immigrants. We indeed believe in the philosophy of atithi devo bhav. But it doesn’t mean that outsiders can take over our homes and destroy whatever we have. We treat guests with care. But they are only guests and they have to leave.
The BJP had promised to roll out implementation of the 7th Pay Commission from the first day of assuming office.
The first Cabinet meeting constituted a committee under PP Verma, former chief secretary of Assam. It has been given 45 days’ time to submit the report. The committee will make an estimate of the cost to the exchequer, besides addressing other nitty-gritty of the rollout of the promise, which would benefit 1.50 lakh employees, who are still getting only the Fourth Pay Commission benefits.
Tribals in the state had a sense of alienation and their leaders had run a campaign for autonomy.
Tribals in the state are now part of the government. We are addressing their grievances through development works. They are now part of the mainstream.
Have you been given assurances by the government to fulfil the poll promises?
The Centre has already committed Rs 4,000 crore of additional grants for funding various infrastructure projects, including four and six-laning of national highways. Union Minister for Petroleum Dharmendra Pradhan has assured me of setting up two plastic parks in the state, which would give direct employment to 4,000 people.