Sunil Deodhar, the man credited with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s victory in the recent Tripura assembly elections is convinced that the CPI(M) will not return to power in the state.
“Leftist ideology cannot survive when they are not in power,” the RSS pracharak and BJP’s in-charge in Tripura told BloombergQuint in an interview. Communist Party of India-Marxist being ousted out of power after twenty five years in the recent state assembly polls.
Deodhar, who spent two years in Tripura before the elections, solidifying support for the party cited the example of West Bengal. The Left has been finished in West Bengal after Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress came to power because the Left cadre has joined the TMC in large numbers, he said.
The Left cannot survive without power. That is their problem.Sunil Deodhar, BJP In-Charge, Tripura
Watch the full interview here.
Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.
How would you describe this electoral victory in Tripura? Is it much more than an ideological win for the BJP?
Obviously, it is an ideological win. Because the leftists of this country are prime opponents of ‘rightists’, that is, the BJP. In the history of our country for the first time, leftists and rightists fought an election at a state level in Tripura and in that election, we defeated them. I see this election as our ideological victory.
The vote percentage that CPI(M) got in Tripura was 42.7 percent while the BJP got 43 percent. So it is not like CPI(M) does not have supporters. It would seem that the BJP got most of the Congress’ vote instead?
Leftist ideology or leftist cadre cannot survive when theyare not in power. Before they come to power, there is spark, current, zeal to do something for their ideology. They can go anywhere and fight anywhere for the party and do anything. But as soon as they come to power, then from the state governments they make certain arrangements through false BPL cards and many other frauds. They see that their cadre will get some money to run their house. That is why they are totally dependent on the government.
The same thing happened in West Bengal. In West Bengal, the Left parties are finished because their cadre has left and joined the ruling party. Today also, thousands of Left cadres are eager to join BJP inTripura, but we have stopped them. Because there are many crimes committed by Left cadre in past. So, unless and until we investigate those crimes, we are not open to take in criminals in our party who have committed heinous crimes in that state.
But I am sure that the Left ideology will not come back again in Tripura. The Left cadre are interested in joining BJP. Not only the political cadre but also all the unions. All the offices of CITU are closed. All the employees in the unions are joining Bharatiya Mazdur Sangh in Tripura because they cannot survive without power. That is their problem.
With power there needs to be humility. Do you think pulling down the Lenin statue was an unwarranted incident?
It was an unwarranted incident. When this incident happened, at that time the caretaker chief minister was Manik Sarkar. Even our Leader of House was not decided till that date. As soon as Biplab Dev was elected as Leader of the House, even before the swearing-in ceremony, he spoke to DGP of the state. Before that there was no scope for Biplab Dev to talk to police. That is why, right from that day, you can see the record of Tripura. No crime and such unwarranted incidents have happened in Tripura. We condemn and disagree with that incident. We will see that such incidents never happen in Tripura in the coming future.
You spoke about the Left ideology being hit after Tripura results. But in Mumbai we saw nearly 50,000 farmers marching for justice under the CPI(M) banner. Isn’t the Left ideology still alive and kicking in certain sections of society despite the party being in power in one state?
I never said that the ideology is finished. I said that the ideology is defeated in one state. Whenever there were debates and discussions about Left ideology, they used to give the example of Tripura as a role model. But now they don’t have any role model left. So, the Left has not left any role model any more. I said that they are defeated in their state. I agree that the ideology still exists everywhere in this country. Our ideological fight with them will continue in future. Regarding the Maharashtra incident, I am quite sure that the Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is a very effective and efficient CM. He will tackle the problem and see that this ideology will not come ahead in the state. Because BJP workers will do their work properly and will see that such incidents don’t happen.
Coming back to Tripura, how did you convince a populace of tribal, minority, beef-eating people to put their trust in a party whose basic ideology is very different?
Beef-eating was not at all a problem in Tripura. They have been deprived of simple food. When they are not getting food and getting food once in three days then how will they be concerned whether they are getting beef or not. They were dependent upon bamboo shoots and roots. So, it was not an issue in Tripura. That is why you can see, the result shows, that the indigenous people, whether Christians or non-Christians have voted for BJP.
Will your ability to win elections now be utilised in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh where the BJP faces real challenges of anti-incumbency?
This decision will be taken by the National President and it is not my cup of tea. Till date, I am the in charge of Tripura. I am working and happy in Tripura. I will see that our organisation in Tripura will be strengthened further. If and when my service and guidance is required for the government or Tripura, I will always be there with them.
Do you have an assessment of challenges that your party faces in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh?
I know that the challenge of anti-incumbency is always there for any party which is ruling even for five years because you cannot satisfy all demands, whereas expectations of people are always high. So, however they have performed in 15 years or 5 year or 10 years, it is up to them to convince people about what they have done for that state, to convince them about the central government’s performance, Narendra Modiji’s performance for a country as a whole and the state in particular. I am sure that the leadership in all these states will overcome these problems and win all these three states.
You said every government faces anti-incumbency. Do you think that the central government is facing anti-incumbency?
Not at all. I am sure that in 2019, we will be victorious, more powerfully then what we did in 2014.
You are saying this even with farmers agitated? Employment is also still a big question mark.
Agitation will go on and they will issue their demands. But they know that kisan card, soil health card, neem coated urea has been done by Narendra Modiji. If you fulfill one demand, then the next demand will always be there. It is not wrong that they place demands in front of our government. When Parliamentary elections will come, everyone will see that we want this Prime Minister to repeat a second term. The election will be won in the name of Modiji.
Who is the biggest challenge for BJP politically today?
No comments from my side as I am concerned with Tripura and I am in charge ofTripura-BJP and CPM is not the big challenge on a national level for Parliamentary elections.
What will be your new direction for the new government in Tripura? Will you be the driving force behind the government?
I will not be the driving force because our CM and Deputy CM is efficient enough to handle problems and develop the state. Whatever we have committed in our manifesto, our agenda will be the completion of all our assurances, guarantees and commitments. During our campaign, we have said that as soon as we come to power, the very first Cabinet meeting will give the decision of giving Seventh Pay Commission to state government employees. For the last 20 years, they were getting Fourth Pay Commission.
Can the Tripura government afford it?
We will seek help from the PM. For the first two years, we will need some help from the Centre. But after that we are confident that we will create our own revenue model and become self-sufficient. Secondly, we have assured a CBI inquiry regarding the murders of journalists in the state. In the first Cabinet meeting, the decision has been taken. As well as naming the airport of Agartala in the name of Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur Debbarman and the letter has been sent to the central government.