Rajkumari’s tryst with politics

Pragna had never evinced any interest in politics, confining her activities to cultural activism as the regional head of the Intach

By Sekhar Datta in Agartala
  • Published 14.04.19, 1:02 AM
  • Updated 14.04.19, 1:02 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Pragna Deb Burman The Telegraph picture

“Maharaj Kumari” Pragna Deb Burman, daughter of Tripura’s late Maharaja Kirit Bikram Kishore Manikya and Rajmata Bibhu Kumari Debi, is quite at ease with the heat and dust of elections, drawing crowds and accepting new entrants into the party from the CPM and even from the ruling BJP.

With an MSc in remote sensing from North East Hill University (Nehu), Shillong, Pragna had never evinced any interest in politics, confining her activities to cultural activism as the regional head of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural activities (Intach). She would have remained so, shuttling between India and Italy, as she is married to an Italian, if not for the appointment of her brother Pradyot Kishore Manikya Deb Burman to the post of PCC president in February that changed many an equation. Party men wanted Pradyot to contest from the Tripura East (ST) Lok Sabha seat but he decided to have his sister contest the battle of ballots.

The royal scion seems to have embraced her brother’s ethno-centric political lines as the reason for her consent to entering the poll fray. “There is frustration among the youth over the failure of political leaders to address their causes. I thought I could contribute, hence I decided to contest,” Pragna said.

She is determined to stop the straining of the delicate demographic balance in Tripura, abort the “invitation to immigrants” and take her message loud and clear to the indigenous people.

The election has spawned an opportunity for her to make her maiden trips to the hilly interiors of the state and she is enjoying the response of the electorate. In rally after rally, Pragna, accompanied by her brother, is welcoming indigenous youths to the party fold.

She is, however, deep in a triangular contest with the BJP’s Rebati Mohan Tripura and Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura supremo Narendra Chandra Debbarma.

What appears to pose a problem for the “Rajkumari” is the three-pronged division of votes of the indigenous people among the BJP, the IPFT and the Congress in an overall electorate of 12,57,944 and lack of a proper organisation of her party. Despite an apparent groundswell of support for her as an exalted royal, Pragna will be facing the problem of putting up polling agents in all the 1,645 polling stations in the sprawling and hilly constituency comprising 30 Assembly segments. This is compounded by an indifference of substantial non-tribal voters towards the Congress because of Pradyot’s ethno-centric political slogans.

Pragna, who has politics in her veins — her father was a three-time a Congress MP and her mother a two-time MLA — however, is confident of success. “We are in this election to win, I think the people of East Tripura (ST) constituency will vote in our favour,” she said.