Manik Saha takes oath, effort to name team without big shake-up
The ruling BJP is engaged in hectic parleys to finalise the council of ministers to be headed by Manik Saha, who was on Sunday morning sworn in as the 11th chief minister of Tripura, “as soon as possible” but party insiders ruled out any “major” shake-up to “ensure” a smooth transition in the election-bound state.
The BJP sources said the consultations involving party observers focussed on finalising the council of ministers and organisational matters.
Saha, the incumbent state BJP president and a Rajya Sabha member, succeeded Biplab Kumar Deb, who had resigned as the chief minister soon after his arrival from Delhi on Saturday, just months ahead of the Assembly polls in early 2023.
“We don’t expect major changes because polls are round the corner. The message to party rank and file is to work selflessly for the party and connect with the masses. The new CM and the former CM share very warm ties. We expect the new ministry to be in place very soon. We are looking at continuity in governance and in ministry unless absolutely necessary,” a party leader said.
Saha, a leading dental surgeon who quit the Congress to join the BJP in the 2016, also spoke about continuity in his maiden press conference in Agartala after a consultative meeting held after his swearing in at the Raj Bhavan.
While thanking the Central BJP leadership and former CM Deb for entrusting him with the responsibility of leading the state as the chief minister, Saha said his “chemistry” with former CM is “very strong” and will discharge his “responsibility” as sincerely as before in “consultation” with others.
He dwelt on his active involvement as the party’s Pristha Pramukh in booth committee management and membership drive.
Saha also said he will “take forward” the development agenda initiated by Deb and ensure that it reaches the “last man in the line” besides strictly maintaining law and order.
He said the new council of ministers has not yet been decided but he was sure there will be no problem in finalising it because the BJP is a disciplined party. The new ministry will be finalised in the next few days, he said.
Before the press meet, Saha had tweeted, “My heartfelt thanks to Hon’ble PM Shri @narendramodiJi for reposing faith on me and people of Tripura. It shall be our constant endeavour to accomplish your untiring efforts for fulfilling the needs of the people.”
My heartfelt thanks to Hon’ble PM Shri @narendramodi Ji for reposing faith on me and people of Tripura.— Prof.(Dr.) Manik Saha (@DrManikSaha2) May 15, 2022
It shall be our constant endeavour to accomplish your untiring efforts for fulfilling the needs of the people. https://t.co/3NVhs4KAmT
Modi had in a tweet said he was confident that the 1953-born Saha, a dental surgeon would “add vigour to the development journey of Tripura which began in 2018”.
The BJP-Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) alliance had ended the Left Front’s 25-year-rule in the 2018 Assembly polls. The Opposition CPI(M) stayed away from the swearing-in-function on Sunday.
Biplab Deb was one of the architects of the alliance’s epochal win as the state BJP president, a post that went to Saha in 2020 to quell dissent against Deb.
Sources said the BJP leadership had “no” option but to change Deb to check infighting which saw three BJP MLAs quitting to join Opposition parties, “growing” anti-incumbency, growing activities of Opposition parties and the rise of the regional TIPRA Motha in the autonomous tribal council area.
“Party is more important than individuals. We have changed CM in Uttarakhand and Gujarat,” one of them said.
However, Deb will continue to remain an “influential” player in the state unit.