January 16, 2022

Tripura: Modi Tarnishes Dignity of PM’s Office by Spreading Lies

Haripada Das

WHILE blaming the erstwhile Left Front government in Tripura headed by Manik Sarkar and glorifying the inglorious performance of the present BJP-led government in the state, prime minister Narendra Modi has practically resorted to a volley of white lies and thereby tarnished the dignity of the office of the prime minister. The prime minister also turned a so-called government programme into an election rally and targeted the opposition. 

On January 4, on the occasion of the inauguration of the new terminal building of the MBB Airport in Agartala, PM Modi addressed a rally at the Vivekananda Ground and lauded the pace of so-called development in the state ensured by the “double engine” government (same party governments at centre and state). While taking credit for the building of the new airport terminal, the Agartala-Akhaura rail connection which is under construction, construction of national highway and importing high-speed broadband connection from Bangladesh, etc., the prime minister defamed the former Left Front government led by Manik Sarkar saying that, unlike the incumbent “double engine” government, the Left Front government had put a brake on the way to progress and was riddled with corruption.  

The next day, former chief minister and present leader of the opposition, Manik Sarkar in a press meet refuted the falsehoods spread by the prime minister with facts and figures and exposed the mal-performance and non-performance of the present BJP government both in the state and at the Centre. 


Sarkar said the new airport terminal building was initiated in 2010 by the Left Front government. After several rounds of discussions with the then UPA government, it was decided to construct the terminal like that of an international airport. The finalisation of the plan and process of the tender bid was completed by 2017. The land for extension of the runway was acquired by the Left Front government and the cost of land was realised from its own exchequer. The Left Front government also met the expenses of resettlement of the evicted families. A sizeable part of the work was completed during the Left Front regime. Why did the ‘brake-less’, ‘double engine’ government require four years to complete the project? Sarkar asked did not the prime minister know this history or was lying to play a blame game? 


Consequent to the creation of Pakistan (now Bangladesh) during independence, Tripura faced bottle-necked adversities in respect of communication. The people of the state aspired for rail in Tripura since independence because the rail tracks that they had been using for so long fell inside Pakistan. On many occasions, two MPs from Tripura, namely Dasaratha Deb and Biren Datta, raised the demand for the extension of rail in Tripura in Parliament. A large youth brigade from Tripura staged a dharna in New Delhi demanding rail in the state. The then Congress government at the centre always rejected the demand on the plea of non-profitability in the project as there is no industry in the state. When the industry ministry was requested for setting up industry in the state, it outrightly declined to concede on the plea that there was no rail connectivity in the state.  The Congress party at that time ridiculed the Left Front government, saying that the government was trying to divert the people’s attention from their failure to provide jobs for the youths with the demand for rail. The Congress party even pressed the centre not to concede to the demand for rail as it would be a big mileage for the Left Front government.

Only in 1996, the central government led by H D Deve Gowda had given sanction for the construction of rail up to Agartala. During the construction of the rail track, there was serious threat perception from the outlawed extremist outfits active in the state. The Left Front government provided all possible security for the rail engineers and workers involved in construction and the entire expenses incurred in providing security to them was borne by the state government. The then rail ministry highly appreciated the exemplary cooperation extended by the state government to railway engineers and workers. 

Setting aside all these barriers, rail reached Agartala in October 2008 and subsequently converted to broad gauge and had gone to Sabroom, the southern end of the state. Were all these endeavours of the Left Front government signs of taking ‘break’, Manik Sarkar asked and advised that before commenting about the performance of the earlier government, the prime minister should have known the history of the rail movement in Tripura. 


Referring to the discussion between the prime ministers of India and Bangladesh, an agreement was finalised for the construction of the India-Bangladesh rail track to connect Agartala with Akhaura. Soon, the Left Front government jumped into action and helped the rail ministry to complete the land acquisition. The earthwork was also started before the BJP came to power in the state in March 2018. Since then, not even a one-km track of the 15-km project advanced during the last four years. Is this the pace of the ‘brake-less’  ‘double engine’ government, Sarkar quipped. 


Elaborating on the aspiration and struggle of the Left Front government to get eight state roads recognised as national highways, Sarkar said that during the foundation stone laying ceremony of double-laning of Udaipur-Sabroom road, “I raised the question to the then minister, George Fernandez, why should we have only one national highway while other states have several such roads.” Witnessing overwhelming applause in support of this demand by the masses present on the occasion, Fernandez assured to consider the demand and finally, after discussion at Raj Bhavan, acceded to recognise eight state roads as national highways. While bidding thanks for granting such a big award, Sarkar informed that the state would be waiting to have the fund released as early as possible. Sarkar politely asked the prime minister, as the head of the bigger engine, how many roads have you constructed in Tripura? Not even one. On the contrary, the only national highway in the state is not being maintained properly.  Now I see that both the engines got punctured and halted at the moment. 


The prime minister made the tall promise of providing speedy internet services to the people of the state. Sarkar informed there was a virtual tripartite meeting among Sheikh Hasina, Narendra Modi and Manik Sarkar. Among other agendas, the issue of providing under-sea high-speed broadband cable from Coxbazar (Chittagong) to Agartala was also raised. Considering the potentiality of Agartala being the third gateway for economic activity, the Bangladesh prime minister had given consent to provide far more speedy cables for Tripura. Sarkar asked prime minister Modi to let the people of the state know how far the project advanced during all these years.      


About 1.5 lakh beneficiaries have been selected for granting houses on the basis of an economic survey in 2011 in the state. The prime minister in his address to the masses gave credit to the present chief minister saying that only for his pursuance, the criteria for selecting beneficiaries has been liberalised allowing those having GCI(Corrugated Galvanised Iron) roof in their houses. The prime minister just falsified the fact. The then Left Front government repeatedly demanded that in Tripura most of the poor people live in GCI-roofed mud-wall houses. Thus, to draw these poor people under the purview of this scheme, the criteria must be liberalised entitling the house-holders to having mud-wall and GCI roof. Manik Sarkar strongly criticised the falsehood of the prime minister and asked why did not do it earlier and why did you take so many years in awarding sanctions? And, what is going on with the PMAY beneficiaries? A good amount of sanctioned funds is being squeezed by local leaders of the ruling BJP. Are you aware of this fact? Sarkar asked. 


Scathingly criticising the prime minister’s fictitious allegation about corruption during the Left Front government, Sarkar asked him, do you know how many awards the central government provided the state during the UPA dispensation and lastly NDA governments led by you in various parameters like literacy, MGNREGA performance, agriculture, financial management, etc.? During the assembly election campaign, you did not raise such allegations. After four years of your rule, not a single case of corruption has been established against any of the Left Front ministers. On the contrary, the central government headed by Modi is fully dipped in a wave of serious corruption. The Rafale aircraft purchase scam is now known worldwide and has tarnished the image of the country.  In the state also, after releasing offer letters in the post of TSR jawans, the allegations of transaction of lakhs of rupees are coming to light where the leaders of the ruling BJP are named as recipients of the bribes. And now, the government is trying to prevent the competent aspirants from knocking on the door of the high court by driving them away by the police.

Lastly, Manik Sarkar warned, falsification would not sustain for long. The people are preparing to ask for accounts. You misled Tripura people during the last election only by falsehood which would not work all the time.