Tripura: Manik Saha retains most ministers in new team
Tripura’s new chief minister Manik Saha has opted for continuity to ensure a smooth transition of power while constituting his council of ministers on Monday.
Saha retained nine of the 10 ministers who were part of the team headed by his predecessor Biplab Kumar Deb, who abruptly resigned on Saturday soon after his arrival from Delhi following talks with the party leadership.
Only two new faces have made it to the Saha ministry -- one from the BJP and the other from the ally, the Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT).
The only person missing from Deb’s team was Mevar Kumar Jamatia of the IPFT but that had to do with the ongoing power tussle in the regional party. Jamatia was replaced by Prem Kumar Reang, also of the IPFT.
The other new entry in the ministry is Rampada Jamatia, a senior tribal leader from the BJP, suggesting that the alliance will be focussing on the tribal areas which sends 20 of the 60 MLAs to the state Assembly and where the TIPRA Motha, a regional outfit, is growing rapidly.
Saha, a dental surgeon, soon after taking charge on Sunday had said his “chemistry” with Deb was “very strong” and there will be “no” problem in constituting the ministry. Saha is also the incumbent state BJP chief and a Rajya Sabha member.
Tripura has a 12-member council of ministers, including the chief minister. There are 10 BJP and two IPFT members in the Saha ministry. One berth was vacant during Deb’s tenure.
“The new chief minister has opted for continuity for smooth change of guard in a state which goes to polls early next year. Even the deputy chief minister (Jishnu Dev Varma) is continuing. This shows everything is fine in the ruling BJP and also with the BJP-IPFT ruling alliance. We will now have to focus on governance and connect with the masses,” a senior BJP leader said.
Hectic parleys were held among senior BJP leaders on Sunday after Saha was sworn in to finalise the new ministry and also on beefing up the organisation before the polls.
A senior BJP leader, who was part of the discussions on Sunday, said organisational matters will be discussed with the party leadership during the two-day meeting of office-bearers from across the country from May 20 in Jaipur to firm up plans for poll-bound states.
However, multiple sources said former chief minister Deb will be entrusted with a key role to further strengthen the state unit before the Assembly polls. Deb had to be changed to “curb infighting and anti-incumbency”.
Tripura remains a key state for the BJP in the Northeast. The BJP-IPFT alliance had ended the Left Front’s 25-year-long rule in the 2018 polls.
The eleven ministers who took oath of office on Monday included the IPFT’s Naren Chandra Debbarma and Prem Kumar Reang while that of the BJP’s included Jishnu Dev Varma, Ratan Lal Nath, Pranajit Singha Roy, Manoj Kanti Deb, Santana Chakma, Ram Prasad Paul, Bhagaban Chandra Das, Sushanta Chowdhury and Rampada Jamatia.