No place for Lenin, Marx... in India

Interview/ Sunil Deodhar, BJP in-charge, Tripura

Sunil Deodhar | Salil Bera Sunil Deodhar | Salil Bera

Now that you have won in Tripura, would good governance be a challenge?

Yes. The biggest challenge would be to fulfil promises we have given to the people... we will have to work relentlessly. We will have to keep our alliance partner with us as well.

Could you have won without an alliance with the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura? The BJP has got 35 seats—clear majority—on its own.

No. I do not think so. There were many booths where IPFT had massive vote share, which came to us. We won ten seats in tribal areas, and the IPFT won eight. Had we not contested together, we would have been defeated.

Before the election you assailed Manik Sarkar, and raised issues such as corruption and the mysterious deaths of CPI(M) leaders who could have been his potential foes.

I did not make such allegations to win votes. I stick to what I said. We will probe his role in corruption cases and other offences. And, if found guilty, jail would be his new house.

We will carry out a detailed investigation into the Rose Valley chit fund scam. Why did Sarkar write to the CBI, giving Rose Valley a clean chit? His own finance minister later said it was a Rs 35,000-crore scam. There, however, is no personal animosity. Basically, Sarkar was neither soft nor hard as an administrator. He was a niskarma (inefficient) chief minister.

It is said that the BJP would rechristen streets named after Marx, Engels, Lenin, and remove all memorials linked to communist icons.

All... Lenin, Marx and Engels will go. There is no place for such world history on Indian soil, when we have our own luminaries.

Analysts credit you for the BJP's historic victory in Tripura. What was your mantra?

I would not praise myself.... I have a long way to go. When there is commitment from workers, and they are ready to take on challenges, everything changes. I played the role of a catalyst.

Were the workers ready to face violence?

They braved bullets and a series of attacks. Thousands of youth got injured; twelve of them were brutally murdered.

Yet, you refused to take personal security cover.

How could I, when ordinary party workers faced threats every day?

Political observers say your next destination will be Bengal.

How can I go to Bengal unless [BJP president] Amit [Shah] bhai asks me to do so? I have made it clear to the party that my job in Tripura is not finished. Wherever I go, I will oversee developments in Tripura. I will ensure that the state marches ahead. It has the potential; it has mineral and gas reserves. Tripura is not 'small', though it is small in size.

So, are you ruling out a mission in Bengal?

No. One can serve Bengal, too, while serving Tripura... they are just 50 minutes apart, by air.

Do you think change in Bengal is possible?

I have a clear view on this. Mamata Banerjee ended left rule in Bengal, and we have now done it in Tripura. BJP workers in Bengal would definitely be buoyed by our victory. But, I must say our party would have to strive hard in Bengal to remove Mamata from power. If the party wishes, I am ready to contribute.

What is your take on the roles of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah in the massive victory?

I have not spoken to Modiji after the win. Before that, he had asked me to shed weight when I told him that I would gift him Tripura!

And, Amit Shah?

I had told him after taking charge, “Jiyunga ya marunga, lekin Tripura aap ko dunga (I might live or die, but I will give you Tripura).”

What was his response?

He asked me why I was talking about death? He asserted that the BJP was in power at the Centre, and that no political outfit would have the guts to touch a state in-charge of the BJP today. I would not forget his words; it reaffirmed my confidence.