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Tripura scion follows in mom's footsteps
- Royal foray into politics

Agartala, May 29: Tripura's royal family is gearing up for politics again. This time, it is Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarman, son of the state's last coronated prince Kirit Bikram Kishore Manikya, who is taking the first tentative steps into the political arena.

Sources close to the royal family said Maharani Bibhu Kumari Debi, wife of Maharaja Kirit Bikram, had decided to pave the way for her son's entry into state politics.

'He has already met and spoken to Rahul Gandhi in Delhi and it is only a matter of time before he formally takes the plunge,' one of the sources said.

The process started rolling in public when Pradyot Kishore, accompanied by his parents, attended the state convention of the Congress, Seva Dal, in the campus hall of Hindi Higher Secondary School recently.

After the royal family had taken seats in the front, state Seva Dal chief Subrata Deb invited Pradyot Kishore to address the gathering and he obliged by speaking briefly.

Though fissures in the state Congress were on display ' PCC chief Samir Ranjan Barman and his son and MLA Sudip Roy-Barman boycotted the convention ' the presence of the royal family triggered speculation about Pradyot Kishore joining the Congress.

Pradyot Kishore could not be reached for his comments. Tripura's royal family had first joined politics in 1967 when Maharaja Kirit Bikram defeated CPM leader Dasharath Deb in the Lok Sabha election.

He, however, strayed from the Congress after Indira Gandhi passed the privy purse bill and lost the next Lok Sabha polls as an Independent. He won the Lok Sabha polls again in 1977 and 1989, but subsequently opted out of politics.

His wife, Maharani Bibhu Kumari Debi, won two successive Assembly elections in 1983 and 1989 and was the revenue minister in the Congress-TUJS coalition government. She won the Lok Sabha polls in 1991 but then left the Congress and unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha polls of 1996 as a candidate for the Tiwary Congress. Since then she has been in political hibernation.

Sources close to the royal family said Pradyot Kishore would soon become the third member to join active politics from Tripura's Manikya dynasty. This dynasty had ruled the state for 500 years till October 15, 1949, when princely Tripura merged with the Indian Union.

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