Tripura BJP lawmaker extols Mamata, slams PM Modi

Ashis Das said he was proud of the West Bengal Chief Minister becoming the face of the Opposition in the country

A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA in Tripura has hailed West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as the face of the Opposition in India while slamming Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “selling off” the country’s assets to private parties.

The BJP, troubled by dissension against Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, has not reacted officially to the views of Ashis Das, who represents the Surma Assembly constituency reserved for Scheduled Castes.

Mr. Das, who is in Kolkata for a programme at the Kalighat temple there, said “time will tell” whether his visit to the West Bengal capital was “religious or political”. This has set tongues wagging in Tripura about the possibility of some BJP leaders joining the Trinamool Congress (TMC)

The TMC has been trying to gain a foothold in Tripura and other States in the Northeast.

Praising Ms. Banerjee for winning the Bhabanipur Assembly by-election “overwhelmingly”, Mr. Das said he was proud that the West Bengal Chief Minister had become to face of the Opposition in India.

“She has not only raised hopes of millions in West Bengal but also across the country, which is looking up to her as the second mother-like personality after Indira Gandhi to lead as the Prime Minister,” he said.

The Tripura MLA said Mr. Modi had similarly stirred the people of India with his slogans such as ‘na khaoonga, na khaane doonga, desh nahi bikne doonga’ (‘won’t take bribe, will not let others take bribe, will not let the country be sold’).

“But today, the party has become a ‘jumla’ [joke] in the country, selling off all government property to private parties,” Mr. Das said, adding that the BJP was running the Centre and certain States in an “autocratic style”.

Tripura BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharjee said senior party leaders would look into the matter. “We are trying to find out everything,” he told The Hindu.

Mr. Das and four other BJP MLAs – Sudip Roy Barman, Ashis Kumar Saha, Diba Chandra Hrangkhawl and Burba Mohan Tripura – had a few days ago organised a party meeting in Agartala apparently to discuss the “goings-on” in the party.

The BJP has been facing dissidence with several Central leaders having travelled to the State for setting the house in order.

Mr. Barman had been sacked as the Health and Information Technology Minister a year after the BJP formed a coalition government in March 2018. His removal following differences with the Chief Minister had fuelled resentment within the party.

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