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Need to uproot communist ideology: Deodhar

Wednesday, March 14, 2018
By Dev Kotak. Photograph by Azad Shrivastav

Says Tripura rejected CPI-M's 20-yr rule

Having selflessly worked in North East India for eight years, Sunil Deodhar, is being attributed as the architect of BJP's win in the region, especially Tripura, which is evident from the results wherein the saffron party won an astounding 35 seats out of 60 in the recently concluded state elections. The party was able to make huge electoral gains detrimental, in a run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

As the ruling party made inroads, they also shattered the red bastion of the communists, who had been in power in the state for 25 years and also dethroned Manik Sarkar, thereby ending his 20-year rule.

Deodhar, who hails from Mumbai's western suburb, Andheri, has been credited for a massive turn around since 2013, when the party failed to win even a single seat, after he spent more than 600 days in the capital city, Agartala.

The fact that BJP president Amit Shah considered him a vital strategist and change-maker is evident as to why he was assigned the task of handling Tripura and two other poll-bound northeastern states-Nagaland and Meghalaya. Seeing the results he generated in Dahod, Gujarat in the 2012 assembly polls and 2013 Delhi elections, where he was in-charge of South Delhi or appointed as campaign manager to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's parliamentary constituency of Varanasi. The former 'pracharak' and teacher worked on a single command from Shah to win the elections.

Ask him why the CPI-M suffered a drubbing, he says, “They ruled for more than two decades, but nothing positive happened during their rule and needed change desperately. People were tired of hearing the same speeches in these years. People realised that CPI-M was dividing them into two classes-those who supported them and those were not in their favor. Those who showed support were entitled to benefits, preferential treatment or maybe even get a berth. People suffered because they were not pro CPI-M. Political murders, lack of employment opportunities, poor conviction and high crime rate, Tripura remained on top and these are factors that led to anger amongst people. They could not even hold on to the deposits of  their tribal seats, losing to over confidence. The women of the state, who worked with us and those who voted for us have been the biggest support. People of the state itself were angry and threw them out of power”.

“Tripura has suffered for so many years because no one spoke of it, advertised or promoted it. The Sarkar government did not allow industries to flourish. With infrastructure being beefed up I am positive that a lot of development will take place. A direct Agaratala-Calcutta Duronto Express train will take just six hours. Digitisation is yet to happen there, so that remains our focus. The number of opportunities we have identified for the youth and people of that state are plenty; and their government had the audacity to reject our Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda's proposal to convert GB Pant Hospital into a super speciality one”.

Meanwhile, challenges faced in the hill state were plenty. The Congress never gave the feeling that the CPI-M government must be shunted out as it became an eyewash, confusing the people even more.

Kushti in Tripura, Dosti in Delhi (wrestling in the state and friendship at the center) was the common jibe Modi made.

“Congress were never interested in winning the elections there. No big personality has ever come there from the Congress. Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi both canceled election rallies at the eleventh hour, infuriating the people even more. 52 union ministers from BJP have visited Tripura in the last four years and they personally visited even the smallest of districts, leaving no stone unturned to pacify the disgruntled people of that state. Every minister got some or the other scheme, which is when people realised that the BJP is serious about them. Our turning point was winning Assam, considered to be the North East's backbone”.

The Modi wave (ministers were told to visit regularly), serious ideological differences (with CPI-M), an established face that could be projected as their leader (current CM Biplab Kumar Deb) and streamlined booth level management, are the key reasons that helped the ruling party win and cement their base there too.

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