Tripura Governor Satyadeo Narain administers oath to BJP leader Manik Saha as the new chief minister during his oath taking ceremony, in Agartala. (PTI Photo)
Agartala: A day after being elected as the ruling BJP's legislature party leader, Manik Saha was sworn in as the new chief minister of Tripura. Governor S.N. Arya administered the oath to Mr Saha, a Rajya Sabha MP, at the Raj Bhavan in Agartala. Assembly elections in the state are scheduled for 2023.
After the swearing-in ceremony, Mr Saha said, "Will work for the people of Tripura, taking further the development agenda of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Will focus on the law and order situation."
When asked about the change of guard in the state months ahead of the Assembly elections, he said, "There are no challenges."
Congratulating the newly appointed CM of the northeastern state, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed confidence that Mr Saha will add vigour to the state's development journey.
"Congratulations to Shri @DrManikSaha2 on taking oath as Tripura's CM. Best wishes to him for a fruitful tenure. I am confident he will add vigour to the development journey of Tripura which began in 2018," tweeted the Prime Minister.
Former CM Biplab Kumar Dev, whose sudden resignation on Saturday evening got Mr Saha the top job, and BJP MLAs along with state ministers were present at the ceremony.
Union minister Pratima Bhowmik also attended the swearing-in programme. Deputy chief minister Jishnu Dev Varma and minister Ram Prasad Paul, who broke chairs during the BJP's legislative party meeting on Saturday protesting Mr Saha's appointment as the chief minister, arrived at the Raj Bhavan moments after the swearing-in ceremony ended.
The opposition CPI(M) MLAs boycotted the programme, alleging "fascist-style violence" in the state under the BJP's rule.
The Trinamul Congress, which is trying to make inroads in the state, claimed the chief minister was changed as the BJP realised that people have lost faith in the state government.
Mr Saha’s elevation to the top post in the state stems from his clean image and his track record, which includes crafting the BJP's victory in all 13 civic bodies in the elections held in November 2021.
Sources claim the move comes after an analysis sent by the RSS to the BJP's central leadership indicated there was a need for a change of guard in the party and the government and is being seen by many as a "brand renewal exercise" in this strategic, gateway state in the Northeast.
Highly placed sources in the ruling BJP said the move was required for an "immediate strengthening of the party" as the party organisation is not in good shape and the elections to the state Assembly are barely 8—9 months away.
Party insiders said the situation at the ground level was not tenable as a section of young workers, dubbed the "bike gang", were engaged in acts of high-handedness "which was tarnishing the image of the party."
Senior leaders were repeatedly dispatching letters to the central leadership on the issue.
However, the sudden rise of the Tripura Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance or TIPRA Motha, a regional political party led by the royal scion Pradyot Kishore Debbarma, which is seeking a separate state for the indigenous people of Tripura has become an issue of serious concern for the BJP.
The party swept the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) elections held in April last year, winning 18 of the 28 seats on the "Greater Tipraland" demand in a direct contest with the ruling BJP-IPFT alliance.
Party sources said that the BJP is not in a position to counter the rise of TIPRA Motha in tribal dominated areas and that the tribal party would sweep the tribal areas in the next elections.
The tribal party is also planning to field candidates in at least 25 general seats out of a total 40 general seats. With tribals accounting for a significant section of the votes in these seats, it would mean Debbarma's support could well hold the key to the next elections.
The BJP formed its first government in the northeastern state in 2018 when it won 34 seats in the 60 seat Assembly, defeating the Left alliance that had been ruling the state since 1998.