Congress legislator KN Tripathi at the Assembly on Thursday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Ranchi, Feb. 20: Moments after chief minister Hemant Soren sacked Congress minister Chandra Shekhar Dubey yesterday for his defiant outbursts against the government, the man who was receiving congratulatory calls was K.N. Tripathi.
For, as expected, Dubey’s departure paved the way for the 41-year-old Daltonganj MLA to take his place in the cabinet. “Tripathi will be inducted in the ministry. He will be administered the oath of office by the governor tomorrow at 7pm,” state Congress president Sukhdeo Bhagat told newspersons after his arrival from Delhi this afternoon.
But Tripathi unsure. He doesn’t know whether he should celebrate or call his elevation a conspiracy of fate.
Clad in a white kurt-pyajama and Nehru jacket, he looked bored as he accepted bouquets from partymen.
“Main Congress party ka anusasit worker hun. Party ka adesh hua hai ki mantri banna hai (I am a disciplined party worker. I have been told to become a minister),” he said, making it sound more like a punishment.
Tripathi may have always harboured a wish to become a minister — who doesn’t — but now he finds himself catapulted to that position by virtue of his caste. The Congress wants him to become the party’s Brahmin face to counter Dubey, a move seniors felt would minimise the “hurt” felt by voters of Palamau division after Dubey’s unceremonious exit.
Tripathi, who is also from Palamau, did not wish elaborate on his feelings. But, after much prodding, he revealed, “I know, as a minister, I will have very less time to perform.”
An aide explained his concern. “The model code of conduct for Lok Sabha elections is expected to come into force in March. He will not be able to take any policy decision or make any announcement during this period,” he said.
After the Lok Sabha polls, when the poll code is lifted, Tripathi will barely get a few months to act as Assembly elections are due in November-December.
“Do you think, therefore, that he has any reason to smile? He will be like any other non-performing minister of this government. Voters are not going to be bothered that he was a minister whose hands were tied because of circumstances,” the aide added. But Tripathi wouldn’t speak for fear of upsetting party bosses. “The party has assigned this responsibility to me. Had I got time to act, I would have shown my mettle as minister,” he said.