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Will not join BJP: Pradyot

Pradyot Kishore Manikya

Agartala: Royal scion Pradyot Kishore Manikya on Friday dispelled rumours that he will join the BJP ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

The rumour took wing after Pradyot on July 4 welcomed a decision of the Union cabinet to rename the Agartala airport after his grandfather Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur, the last king of Tripura.

Pradyot Kishore said he was "very happy" on the renaming of the Agartala airport after his grandfather and his social media comments hailing the move did not have any other context.

"I am the grandson of Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore. I am happy on the airport renaming. As of now, I am staying in the Congress and going nowhere else," he said.

He also refuted reports of the Tripura East parliamentary seat being offered to him by the BJP to defect from the Congress. "No such offer has been made," he said.

The Tripura East seat is reserved for an ST candidate.

BJP state in-charge Sunil Deodhar had announced in a television interview on June 24 that his party would contest both the Lok Sabha seats in the state alone. The move peeved the BJP ally Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT), which also announced it would contest the polls alone as well.

Pradyot Kishore on Friday said he wanted a "strong regional voice" in all national parties. "The wishes and aspirations of the Northeast can't be denied for a larger interest. Our population is small but we can't be considered second-class citizens anymore. If a sacrifice is made for a larger interest, I shall definitely oppose," he said in an oblique reference to the NRC update in Assam, which could potentially throw out thousands of Bengali-speaking people.

BJP spokesperson Mrinal Kanti Deb, however, denied reports of offering Pradyot Kishore a Lok Sabha seat and said his party was focusing on developing organisational structure at the booth level. "Candidate selection is yet to be taken up," Deb said.

North East Democratic Alliance (Neda) chairperson Himanta Biswa Sarma had met Pradyot Kishore at the royal palace before the February Assembly election, giving rise to speculation that he might join the BJP. Later, chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb visited princess Pragya Kumari and other royal family members in Shillong.

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