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State BJP chief Manik Saha replaces Biplab Deb as Tripura CM year before polls


Manik Saha —  a dentist by profession — was elected as a Rajya Sabha MP just last month and is also the Tripura state president of the BJP. 

Hours after Biplab Kumar Deb resigned as Tripura chief minister in an unprecedented move, Dr Manik Saha was on Saturday appointed as the new CM of the state which goes to polls next year. Saha —  a dentist by profession — was elected as a Rajya Sabha MP just last month and is also the Tripura state president of the BJP. 

Deb congratulated Saha after the latter was elected as the BJP legislative party leader. “Congratulations and best wishes to @DrManikSaha2 ji on being elected as the legislature party leader. I believe under PM Shri @narendramodi Ji’s vision and leadership Tripura will prosper,” Deb tweeted.

With the state scheduled to face Assembly elections early next year, the move by Deb came as a surprise to many, with even ministers in his Cabinet admitting that they had no prior indication that he would do so.

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Deb made the announcement after meeting the governor at the Raj Bhavan in Agartala.

“Party is above all. I am a loyal worker of the BJP. I hope I have done justice to the responsibilities that were given to me — whether it was BJP state president or Tripura chief minister. I have worked for the overall development of Tripura, and to ensure peace for the people of the state,” Deb told reporters.

“The 2023 election is coming, and the party wants a responsible organiser to take charge of the affairs here. A government can only be formed if the organisation is strong. After the elections, someone will obviously become the chief minister,” he added.

Deb had gone to New Delhi on Thursday and met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president JP Nadda for a confabulation on the party’s affairs in the Northeastern state. “The party wants me to work to strengthen the organisation,” said the outgoing chief minister.”

The people want a long-term BJP government here, if a person like me works for the organisation, obviously it will help the cause,” he said.

Deb was appointed the chief minister after the BJP stormed to power in 2018, ending 25 years of Left Front rule.There have been rumours of infighting within the BJP’s state unit.

The BJP had earlier reposed faith on Deb despite a series of protests from party colleagues — slogans of ‘Biplab Hatao, Tripura Bachao’ were raised during a visit of the party’s national observer Vinod Sonkar at Agartala – and visits of BJP legislators to Delhi to complain about his way of handling things, among other issues.

Former health minister in the Biplab Deb cabinet, Sudip Roy Barman, was dropped from his position, purportedly because of a feud with the CM. Roy Barman eventually left BJP with another MLA Ashish Kumar Saha and joined Congress in January this year.

Biplab Kumar Deb contested in the Tripura Assembly elections for the first time in 2018 and became MLA from Banamalipur Assembly constituency at Agartala with a margin of 9,549 votes and was chosen as chief minister for BJP’s debut stint in Tripura.

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