Interview of TPCC president Shri Pijush Kanti Biswas

Sekhar Datta

June 28, 2020, 15:47:54   

His benign and suave exterior actually form a deception. Senior advocate Pijush Biswas comes to his elements when he represents a client in court in criminal cases and fights like a tiger with his monumental knowledge of law and professional skill. A dedicated Congressmen since his student days, Pijush has been witness to many an up and down in the Congress party and state politics  over the past five decades, often playing key role beyond public view and his long experience now stands him in good stead as President of the Tripura Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC). In his inimitable, persuasive style Biswas has infused new blood and life in the Pradesh Congress and is preparing the party for fighting the political and electoral battles ahead. In a chat with in his chamber in the Congress Bhawan Pijush Biswas gave glimpses of his mind and ideas on the current political stage in Tripura, while predicting confidently the fall of the BJP government before completion of its tenure. The rest follows :

1)      Q. What is your view of the current state of politics in Tripura and what are the steps required to improve the state of affairs ?

A. Tripura under the current BJP-IPFT dispensation is reeling under total anarchy and lawlessness as is evident to people every day. Can you imagine a party-that too a ruling party-disrupting relief distribution programme among distressed people and blood donation camps with violent attacks ? This has been happening in Tripura under BJP rule and there is no remedial step by the civil or police administration. Regarding other things people continue to see this daily. Our relief distribution and blood donation programmes have been disrupted through violent attacks in Teliamura, Ranir Bazar, Belonia and other parts of the state by the anti-social elements who have a free run under BJP's misrule and you will be astonished to know that in no case have police taken any action despite FIRs being filed with all details. In Hrishyamukh area of Belonia one of our local leaders and his old mother had been attacked and injured by BJP’s goons and, while police completed their duty by recovering motor bikes of the attackers and delivering the bikes to them, the doctor in the primary health centre was too scared even to refer our leader and his mother to Belonia subdivisional hospital. Ultimately I had to intervene to ensure their treatment in hospital. But this can not and will not go on for ever as people including those who joined BJP before and after the assembly election are getting frustrated and rooting for change in the state of affairs. I may add that the way the retired chief secretary and a former finance minister of the state have been incarcerated on extremely flimsy procedural grounds and without any sound and solid reason prove the character of the government. Had I not reached his home in time, even our former PCC president and MLA Gopal Roy would also have been incarcerated without any rhyme or reason. Most tragically, there are attempts to attack even our programmes on paying homage to martyred soldiers and officers in the Indo-China border.

2)      Q. But how did BJP come to power in the first place in Tripura and why did Congress fail to do so?

A.  It was because of some specific reasons; presence of BJP government in Centre as well as in a number of states of northeast, deep frustration of people with left front rule, massive anti-incumbency wave and absolutely false and tall promises made by BJP in their so-called 'Vision Document'  and in the ultimate analysis our failure to capitalize on the anti-incumbency. Can you imagine none of the promises made in the so-called 'Vision Document' released by none other than late union finance minister Arun Jaitley has as yet been fulfilled. Only a pittance has been given to employees but there is no DA over the past three years . But the way things are shaping up I do not think this government will be able to complete its term, it will collapse well ahead of the next assembly election.

3)      Q. You have said that failure of Congress to capitalize on the anti-incumbency led to BJP’s emergence in power. Would you please expand on this and is there a chance of understanding with CPI (M) ?

A.  You see Congress had-it still has-impregnable bases in Tripura but we failed to organise and retain our support base and this has to be admitted honestly. In retrospect, Congress would not have drawn a blank in 1977, had not there been a political upheaval reflected in central Congress's defeat in the loksabha elections and all subsequent defeats we suffered were all due to ourselves . But our catalystic base is still intact and you will see this in the profile of BJP-in fact the BJP’s incumbent president Dr Manik Saha is a former Congressman on deputation in the Hindutwawadi party and 90% of BJP's workforce in Tripura comprises Congressmen. In the assembly polls of 2013 BJP had secured only 1.87% of votes but this shot up to 45% in 2018 simply because almost the entire Congress vote and CPI (M)’s floating vote had gone to the party. But all are frustrated now and keen to return to our fold and this will happen before the last assembly elections. Most of them are in touch with us but we have asked them to stay on and return in time to get rid of the BJP menace. As for your question on tie-up with CPI (M) there is no chance of this happening as of now , we are confident of capturing power on our own ; of course there may be alliance with a regional party that accepts our policies and programmes.


4)      Q. The ADC election is coming . What is the prospect of Congress in the upcoming ADC polls ?

A.    Before commenting on our prospects for the ADC polls I must say that I am astonished to see CPI (M)'s inaction on the dissolution of ADC. As per the ADC act and rules the council can not be dissolved without grounds specified but such grounds were not there when the dissolution took place. The CPI (M) which controlled the council could have protested and moved court against the decision but they did not do so-with what purpose I do not know. As for our prospects I can only say that we have been trying to revive our party base in the tribal dominated ADC areas but a final decision on the alignment of forces for the election will be taken in consultation with our central leadership. But we hope to do well in the ADC polls as also in the upcoming elections to the civic bodies in December this year. There are footprints of a famine in the hilly areas and a severe food crisis looms large in rural areas and we will highlight these issues in the campaign for elections ahead.

5)      Q. The state of the economy in the state is now a major concern. What do you think should be done to revive the economy ?

A.      I do not think I have to answer this question because everything is so clear and evident. You just have to visit rural and hilly interior areas to understand the kind of poverty and crisis people are facing . The businessmen and investors of Tripura including contractors do not get any work because all works are being given to dubious firms, NGOs and other outfits from outside  in lieu of hefty money by the BJP leaders and ministers. No work in the smart city project, TSECL , agriculture and many other departments  is available to local contractors or suppliers and the state government owes the contractors crores of rupees but do not sanction amounts without commission for local leaders . The tall talks about MGNREGA and hiking of wages up to Rs 340 and giving jobs after receiving a 'missed call' have come to nought. Most astonishingly , in spite of local candidates being available jobs are being given to people from outside in lieu of commission and paybacks. The matter of e-tender has become a farce as mafia elements under the BJP banner land in the homes of e-tenderers and extort money and all works related to smart city and national highway are being given to parties from outside for hefty commissions. These things never happened in Tripura earlier and all this will lead to a mass revolt against this anti-people government.  The BJP party and the government is surviving only on the strength of a motor bike mafia force that materialize everywhere to disrupt blood donation, relief distribution and other programmes but no relief for people attacked is available from police and civil administration. The bounties on outsiders are being showered at a time when the prime minister Narendra Modi has issued a clarion call for being 'vocal for local'. How they can defy the call of their supreme leader is beyond my understanding.

6)      Q. What is your response to the crisis being faced by the media and how these things can be addressed ?

A. Actually Tripura is currently under and undeclared emergency where no section of people have any democratic, legal or constitutional right. We keep close contact with and follow the contents printed or telecast and we do know how the media is being victimized by denial of advertisements, discriminatory distribution of advertisements , physical attacks in violation of laws and rules passed by the state government itself. Many media houses have been proceeded against by police and courts of law at the government's behest for legitimate critical comments. We do know everything and we will highlight these issues in our campaign in political programmes or in elections. What all these prove is that the current BJP led state government is absolutely and totally undemocratic, vindictive and anti-people. They are merely enjoying power without responsibility for themselves as well as for their lackeys. This is best illustrated by the state government’s failure to cope with the COVID crisis as no promise has been kept and nothing is being done to mitigate the suffering of people . The cumulative effect of all these will be unceremonious exit of the anti-people BJP government before completion of its tenure.


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