Cautious optimism has greeted the citizens of Tripura as they saw the transition of power on Friday when first BJP Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb was sworn in replacing the 69-year old veteran Marxist Manik Sarkar. A large number of rural Tripura people - from districts like Dhalai, Sepahijala and Khowai have made a beeline to witness the gala swearing in ceremony of the BJP-IPFT dispensation.
"We are certainly hopeful. Any 'pariborton (change)' brings hope. But the BJP needs to deliver. The BJP central leadership will have to monitor things. Otherwise, I have my doubts," 35-year-old taxi driver Ranjit Das from Khowai told UNI. Das and his two brothers and sisters-in-law came all the way from Khowai traveling over two hour journey to see Biplab Deb take over. "We are also happy that IPFT general secretary Mevar Kumar Jamatia, who won from Red Fortress Asharambari in Khowai was made Minister," he said.Mr Jamatia has been given the tribal welfare and forest portfolios.
Like Das, several non-tribal Bengali population this time voted for tribal-based outfit Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT) brushing aside the CPI-M campaign who had cautioned that BJP and IPFT could give in to 'tribal demand' and carve out a separate state. The abundant turnout of Tribals in BJP rallies during the high profile campaign was a crystal clear pointer that good performance of the saffron party in the elections would give them an edge to demolish opposition charge that the pro-Hindutva outfit is against tribals and the downtrodden.
There was perhaps a palpable nervousness in the CPI-M camp on erosion of tribal support base and therefore none other than the Chief Minister – with 20 years experience in power – had tried to woo the Bengali voters by telling them repeatedly that the BJP has tied up with a tribal group Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) and may ‘divide’ the state once they come to power. “The huge penetration in tribal support base is an indication that the BJP will surprise many,” trader Bulbul Das has in Kamalpur days before voting was cast. He also has said that Yogi Adityanath’s hardliner pro-Hindutva image and sloganeering Jai Shri Ram has gone down well with a large section of Bengali Hindu voters who always disapproved of the CPI-M central leadership’s alleged Muslim appeasement.
In fact, many voters and BJP admirers who came for swearing speak on these issues also. The fear is things could go out of hands as "emotive issues" had prevailed in the campaign. Rupayan Debnath (32) traveled over 150 kms to watch the Chief Minister Biplab Deb and other Ministers saying, "I want to look at those whom we have reposed faith. We suffered for three decades, not the focus is that the BJP government will deliver in next five years". His wish list include many of those promises those were flagged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi among others.
"Yes, we need jobs," he said adding Modi had pledged HIRA instead of 'Manik'. His reference was to Prime Minister's assurances to the people about all round development and infrastructures. Many confessed at the swearing in venue itself. "Elections here was on development. There came a time, people stopped talking about Left ideology or BJP's Hindutva. We want good governance and development," said Suman Nath, a resident of Belonia.
Echoing similar sentiment, Pratima Das, a housewife from Ambassa said, "We had voted for a change and now we expect the government to perform. Biplab Deb is young. He also has a young team, we do not care much about political ideology". However, some of them were skeptical as many of the Ministers - like Manoj Kanti Deb, Sudip Roy Barman and Ratan Lal Nath - all are "ex-Congress leaders".
"Other than being anti-Left, most former Congress leaders do not have much credibility. Hence, doubts prevail. I am optimistic but I need to be cautious too," 40-year-old trader from Barjala area in Agartala sums up the paradox of a hopeful voter. Many Congress leaders had joined BJP just on the eve of elections and successfully contested the polls as well.The BJP-IPFT government took charge on Friday after the CPI-M led Left Front was handed over a convincing defeat in the February 18 polls.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his brief speech after the swearing in on Friday sought cooperation from opposition CPI(M) for effective governance in Tripura.Addressing a large gathering here, Modi has said "while New team led by Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb is young and has potentials, but the Opposition leaders have experiences. These two coming together can help Tripura march towards greater glories".
Speaking in Bangla, he said "ei Sarkar apnader (this government is yours)" and assured cooperation from the centre.(UNI)