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BJP Determined to Return to Power in Tripura, Pledges State's Party Chief

© AFP 2023 MONEY SHARMAIndian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C) attends the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentary meeting in New Delhi on March 6, 2018.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C) attends the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentary meeting in New Delhi on March 6, 2018. - Sputnik India, 1920, 14.01.2023
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C) attends the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentary meeting in New Delhi on March 6, 2018.. Archive photo
In the previous assembly elections in Tripura, BJP ended the 25-year rule of Left Front by winning 36 of the 60 seats, which allowed it to form the state gov't.
State Assembly elections are due to be held in Tripura next month.
Though the actual dates have yet to be announced, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has already started campaigning in the north-eastern Indian state.
As such, two massive campaigns were launched by federal Home Minister Amit Shah in January and BJP president Jagat Prakash Nadda also addressed a huge rally recently.
In an interview with Sputnik, Rajib Bhattacharjee, president of the BJP in Tripura, disclosed what preparations the party is making for the forthcoming polls and its strategy in contesting the opposition in the state.
Sputnik: The state assembly lections in Tripura are due to take place in February: how are the BJP’s preparations going?
Bhattacharjee: The BJP’s preparations are in full swing. We started preparations at organizational level quite some time ago. We are now focusing on booth level and district level. The booth committees and district committees were restructured and now all the party workers are working hard to reach out to voters in their respective districts, cities, and booths in the state.
Second, we started two campaigns - the 'Booth Vijay Abhiyan' (Victory at Booth Level) and 'Ghar Ghar Chalo Abhiyan' ('Reach out Every Household'). Under 'Booth Vijaya Abhiyan', at least 870 BJP workers were deployed to spread awareness about the work done by the BJP government in their respective area.

The 'Ghar Ghar Chalo Abhiyan' was a massive outreach program in all the state's 60 constituencies. Under the program, we reached out to almost every household of the state and highlighted the achievements of the government in the past few years.

We composed a report card of the government in which we demonstrated the work done by the BJP in the state and every assembly seat. We also gave a comparison of work done by the previous Left Front government and the present BJP government.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also addressed a huge rally in Tripura's capital city Agartala in December and drew attention to the development work done by BJP government.
In January, Home Minister Amit Shah started two “rath yatras” (processions of gods) from Dharmanagar in North Tripura and Sabroom in South Tripura - the two remotest corners of the state. Both these “yatras” covered almost 1,600km in eight days, reaching out to at least 1.5 million people.
Furthermore, a lot of prominent senior politicians, including the BJP’s national president Jagat Prakash Nadda, took part in the “rath yatra”.
Sputnik: What is the party's agenda for the forthcoming elections?
Bhattacharjee: The only agenda BJP has taken up – be it at national or state level – is development.

The previous Left Front government in Tripura used to say that it is the pro-poor government – but they did nothing for the [residents'] welfare. Ever since BJP came to power in Tripura, the benefits of various welfare schemes were rolled out for the poor people of the state.

At least 300,000 poor people got fine houses under the Prime Minister Awas Yojana (Prime Minister Housing Scheme). Then, nearly 37,000 self-help groups have been started in the state to promote the empowerment of women.
These self-help groups were not only made but were given financial assistance so that they remain active and the government is also trying to make sure that the products made under these self-help groups should reach the market.
Along with this, the BJP government has sanctioned 450 ration shops, across the state, to the women so that they are financially secure. At least 300,000 women have got LPG gas connection under the Prime Minister Ujjawala Yojana.
Our government has also provided 'Har Ghar Nal' (Tap water at every household). At least 58 percent households have been connected to tap water.
The BJP government has also increased the social pension from INR 700 ($8.60) to INR 2,000 ($24.58) and announced that a further 30,000 people qualify for the social pension.
At least 10 items including sugar, lentils and soyabeans, are being given under the public distribution system (PDS) to the poor people at subsidized rates. Prime Minister Modi has announced 5kg of foodgrain free of charge and the state government is also providing 5kg of rations at the subsidized rate of INR 2 ($0.025).
As well as all this, the state government has done incredible work in the agricultural sector which has helped farmers to double their income. For example, the government is promoting the export of pineapple, jackfruit and lemon - among other things - from the state to foreign places such as Dubai etc.
So, all this work done by the BJP government speak for itself and it is clear that our agenda is development.
Sputnik: In the latest state assembly elections, the BJP-IPFT alliance dethroned the Left Front government, which was at the helm for 25 years. This time, however, Left Front and Congress have made a joint appeal to voters to come against BJP. How is the party planning to contest their efforts?
Bhattacharjee: The joint appeal by the Left front and Congress will work in the favor of the BJP. See, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) and Congress were hand in glove earlier but now their reality has been revealed to everyone.
For example, both the parties contested elections in West Bengal in alliance and now there is not a single lawmaker of CPI(M) in West Bengal. It will face similar results in Tripura also.

As far as Congress is concerned, it will also get a drubbing. People of Tripura have understood that Congress only used to show that it is against the Left Front but they were friends as the latter supported the former when it was ruling federally.

The people of Tripura voted for BJP and now they are happy with the way BJP has been governing the state.
Apart from this, Congress workers in the state will also be unhappy if both the CPI(M) and Congress – come together because in the past they have suffered a lot during the 25-year regime of CPI(M) in the state. A lot of Congress workers were killed in the post-poll violence and scores of them left the state in 2008 and 2013.
Sputnik: Apart from Left Front and Congress, TMC is also likely to stand in the forthcoming polls. Is there any specific strategy for this very party, given that it defeated the BJP in the latest West Bengal state assembly polls?
Bhattacharjee: I don’t think that Trinamool Congress (TMC) will have much impact in Tripura. It is just trying to expand and it will fail in its efforts. So, there is no need to make any strategy against such party.
The BJP is focused on its agenda of development and we have shown the people of the state that we deliver what we promise so we are confident that they will vote for us again.
A para military force soldier stands guard on the opening day of the winter session of the Parliament, in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022. - Sputnik India, 1920, 13.01.2023
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Sputnik: How would you assess the BJP government’s tenure?
Bhattacharjee: The BJP’s tenure has been an excellent one as it worked according to its manifesto and fulfilled the promises made in it.

Tripura is a very small state in the north-eastern part of India and no one would have thought of the unprecedented development that has happened here under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi.

He said that the state is reaping the benefits of the HIRA model - an acronym coined by PM Modi which means Highways, Internet, Railways and Airways.
Today, Tripura has the biggest airport in the whole north-east region in Agartala. The state is now directly connected to the national capital Delhi through railways. Also, whereas there used to be one highway in the state, today construction of six highways is underway.
Sputnik: Has the BJP decided on its candidates, including for the post of state chief?
Bhattacharjee: As of now, the party has decided to campaign under present state chief Manik Saha. However, any decision about the candidates or state chief will be taken by the central leadership of the party.
Sputnik: What efforts has the BJP government taken during its tenure about the resettlement of Bru, a tribal community indigenous to north-east India?
Bhattacharjee: Refugees from Mizoram have been living in Tripura for the past 22 years. None of the previous governments – be it Mizoram state government, Tripura state government or federal government – gave a thought about their condition.
The people of the Bru community had neither the identity of Mizoram nor Tripura.
It was the BJP which thought about the resettlement of the Bru community ever since it came to power. Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting with the state governments of Mizoram and Tripura and it was decided that members of the Bru community would stay in Tripura itself.
It has been decided that they will be resettled in four places in the state. Enrolment of the members of the community has been done and the whole process will be completed soon.
They will be given financial assistance and are now eligible to vote also. With this, they will have an identity and they will also enjoy the benefits of various welfare schemes from the federal and state governments.
Sputnik: Apart from resettlement of the Bru, the political narrative in the state is likely to be dominated by the discourse of “Greater Tipraland”, a separate statehood seeking to carve out tribal areas of Tripura. How does the BJP plan to tackle this?
Bhattacharjee: The BJP doesn’t follow any particular discourse. The discourse of “Greater Tipraland” is similar to that to “Swadhin Tripura” (Liberated Tripura) during the regime of the CPI(M).
The BJP works on inclusive development and such discourse is only to divert attention of the people from the real issues.

All the previous governments have only tried to show that they care for the tribal communities, but actually they don’t. They did nothing for their welfare or advancement, whereas the BJP government has proved that it really works for the development of all.

For example, we named the Agartala airport in the name of Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya and declared his birthday as a holiday to honor the tribal community.
Apart from that, the tribal welfare department will provide financial assistance to the students who are willing to do higher studies. Also those tribal students who want to pursue their studies in district headquarters then will get hostel accommodation.

Tribal areas have been equipped with road connections, electric connection, good schools and various other facilities. Many such schemes have been started for the welfare of the tribal communities. Therefore, I would say that any discourse such as “Greater Tipraland” is divisive and the BJP doesn’t believe in division, but is more interested in inclusive development and growth.