INTERVIEW | Tripura polls 2023: CM Manik Saha predicts BJP sweep, ‘Bamgress’ rout
BJP will retain power. We are getting an unprecedented response from people. The people of Tripura are supporting us wholeheartedly, said Saha.
Published: 05th February 2023 06:56 PM | Last Updated: 05th February 2023 07:57 PM | A+A A-
AGARTALA: The BJP’s 'Mission 2024' begins with Tripura. There is perceived anger on the ground. Making matters more challenging for the party, once bitter foes Left and Congress struck a seat-sharing deal.
However, Chief Minister Manik Saha is confident BJP can cross the line. He felt “Bamgress” (Bengali 'bam' translates to 'left' in English and 'gress' is from 'Congress') will be a boon in disguise for BJP. He felt there will be a tsunami in favour of the BJP.
Excerpts from an interview with the TNIE:
1. What are BJP’s poll prospects?
BJP will retain power. We are getting an unprecedented response from people. They are supporting us wholeheartedly.
2. Why should people re-elect the BJP?
People will back us for our achievements. Not just we developed connectivity, but we also built roads and other infrastructures and restored peace.
Connectivity improved greatly. The highway from Agartala to Sabroom is on par with the best in the country. During my life in government service when I was posted in far-flung areas, I used to worry about my journey. The BJP government made the roads smooth in no time.
Work is underway for six national highways. Funds worth Rs 10,222 crore have been sanctioned for seven more national highways. We will take these to people as we go to elections. I always say roads show us the road. As far as the internet is concerned, Tripura has the third strongest internet system in the country.
We never imagined Tripura will get railhead. Today, 11 express trains, including Rajdhani Express, run from the state. It has boosted connectivity. There is ease of doing business. People are happy.
3. Why are BJP leaders highlighting only central government initiatives and achievements during the Tripura poll campaign?
The state government also made several achievements. There was a long-standing demand for a dental college and the government fulfilled it. It established peace by maintaining law and order. All political parties are campaigning without any fear. Incidents of murder, rape, robbery, theft and eve-teasing were once common. These cases have now dropped drastically.
We ensured 33% of reservations for women. This will empower them. We set up seven all-woman police stations. There is a help desk at all police stations. We installed CCTVs at various places. These steps were taken for the safety of women and girls.
During the Covid pandemic, the government gave free ration and Rs 1,000 each to 6.75 lakh poor families so that they do not suffer. For 22 years, doctors served in the same grade. We brought smiles in their faces by giving them promotions.
We set up seven super speciality hospitals and trauma and wellness centres. The facilities in hospitals have been improved. We removed the culture of donations, restored the work culture and took up a project for the births of cows (not bulls) through artificial insemination. This government distributed 75,000 mobile phones to students.
It also solved the problem of Brus by resettling them with the Centre’s help. Some 3,000 TET-qualified teachers were appointed in a transparent manner. Earlier, the jobs would go only to the workers and supporters of the ruling party.
The social pension of Rs 700 given to the poor has been increased to Rs 2,000 from Rs 700 during the Left Front regime. It benefitted 2.8 lakh people. The salaries of government employees have been also hiked.
The government is trying to give relief to 10,323 schoolteachers, who terminated their services after a Tripura High Court order in 2014, on humanitarian grounds. The Bamgress is responsible for this.
4. Does BJP face a challenge from the Left-Congress alliance? What are your thoughts on the multi-party contest?
Left and Congress do not trust each other. They shook hands with each other for their existence. For 35 years, they (CPM) unleashed terror – 25 of which in a row. Now that they have come together, there cannot be anything sadder than this. I am surprised the Congress flag is taken out from the CPM’s office. People are not liking it. They will give a befitting reply. It is good for us that their alliance is out in the open. Previously, it was clandestine. That they are the two sides of the same coin is now proven.
5. TIPRA Motha has virtually polarised the tribals on the “Greater Tipraland” statehood demand. What is your take on it?
Greater Tipraland is not practical. They have not been able to cite its geography. They did politics by driving a wedge between tribals and non-tribals and now, they are going along with non-tribals by fielding them in the general seats. They are riddled with problems and in a fix. People do not support political instability. It is good for us.
6. BJP said there will be no division of Tripura. Will the party suffer in the tribal areas?
We have 10 elected members in the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council. People will live in a fool’s paradise if they think we have no strength in the tribal areas.
7. Will BJP align with TIPRA Motha post-poll for the formation of the government?
We will win by a huge margin of votes. We have reported. Let me tell you there could be a tsunami in favour of the BJP. Therefore, the possibility of a post-poll alliance is very thin. We are together with (tribe-based) Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura. We will work with anybody if the intention is the welfare of tribals.