Vol. XLIII No. 23 June 09, 2019

Tripura Health Minister Sacked

Rahul Sinha

IN an interesting turn of events, Sudip Ray Barman, minister for health, DWS, science and technology and information technology was dropped from the state cabinet in the night of May 31st. 

Ray Barman, a former PCC president and erstwhile leader of opposition in the state assembly, had left the Congress party with five other Congress MLAs before the assembly elections, first to join the TMC and then the BJP.

After the victory of the BJP and the IPFT coalition in the 2018 assembly elections, it was primarily assumed that Ray Barman, a veteran in legislative politics could be made the new chief minister. But the BJP central leadership entrusted the top job to Biplab Kumar Deb. 

If one leaves the political considerations aside for a moment and looks into the performance as a minister, one shall have to admit that among the nine ministers of the cabinet including the CM himself, Ray Barman was the only one trying to perform. He, on several occasions, went on to praise former chief minister Manik Sarkar for making voluntary blood  donation a huge success in the state and didn’t hesitate to acknowledge the role played by organisations like the DYFI and the SFI behind the success. 

He, on several occasions, was vocal against the assaults on the Left Front MLAs and leaders by the BJP hoodlums. 

It may also be remembered that before the Lok Sabha elections when PM Modi added "chowkidar" to his official Twitter handle, all the BJP leaders and ministers followed suit. But Ray Barman was, may be among the few in the entire country, who didn’t change his Twitter handle. 

However, the main reason behind his removal was probably his conflict with the CM.  Even before joining the BJP, Ray Barman had mocked the capabilities of Biplab Deb to unseat the Left Front government. During his 14 month stint in the government too there had been a cold war between the two. Political grapevines had it that, Ray Barman was himself aspiring to take up the post of CM and was planning a coup de etat in the case of  Modi's defeat in the Lok Sabha elections. Biplab Deb had warned of a "surgical strike" in the government and the party, post elections.  Hence with PM Modi's gigantic victory, Ray Barman's unceremonious exit from the cabinet was a foregone conclusion. 

In his reaction on this, Ray Barman however was mature. He said, he had tried his best to perform but might not have been able to meet the expectations of the CM and match the performance of the CM the way he was handling the 24 departments assigned to him. However, the people are the ultimate judges, he concluded. 

With his removal, Biplab Deb might have felt relief for the moment. But given the deep line of division already drawn in the party, he might never have a smooth stint as the wounded Ray Barman will always be in search of the opportunity to hit back hard.