From Union ministers Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh, BJP president JP Nadda to West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, big guns are making rounds of the state to check preparedness.
For over 20 years, the Left ruled Tripura. This ended in 2018 when BJP came to power with a thumping majority. Though the chief minister had to be changed towards the end of BJP’s ‘double engine’ government’s tenure, it is worth exploring if the saffron party brought any changes on the ground for the benefit of the state.
News18 travelled to Tripura to probe the state’s development quotient based on interactions with visitors as well as locals.
If you missed flying to Tripura last year, you would be surprised to see the revamped, new-look Maharaja Bikram Manikya airport inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year.
News18 spoke to a group of young students who were waiting outside the airport to understand the changes. One of the students, Anindita Sarkar, said: “Earlier, it was just a tin structure. We are proud of our airport now. It’s beautiful and the processes are also faster. It has changed everything.”
Several youngsters News18 spoke to said the airport was an example of the development done by the government.
Flyer Gautam Roy said: “Things have changed drastically. You go inside the airport and you will understand. This is going to help the common man.
However, not everyone was impressed. Rima Pal, a teacher, said while big changes have come about in the state, the unemployment problem persists.
Road connectivity has always been a bugbear in Tripura. While earlier there was only one Assam-Agartala Road via Dharmanagar, more roads are coming up now.
News18 reached Khowai where work on the national highway is on in full swing. The state has six national highways while seven more have been sanctioned to boost connectivity. A sum of Rs 10,222 crore has been sanctioned for making the state’s lifeline from Churaibari to Agartala.
Vikram, a local driver, told News18: “There is more connectivity now since more roads have come up. Earlier, it would take nine hours to go to North Tripura but now things are better.”
Train-ing for Ease
Though the history of Tripura railway tracks dates back to 1964, the rail line came to the state 40 years later. In 2016, broad gauge started in Agartala, an achievement claimed by the BJP, which says it was the effect of the double-engine government.
As News18 reached a teeming Agartala station, Dipak Biswas — who stays in North Tripura — said: “Earlier, it would take three days to travel. Suppose you came from Kolkata to Agartala, you would have to stay one night and then take a bus the next day. Now things have changed and we are grateful.”
A student named Papiy Roy said the facility was no less than a miracle for students in the state.
BJP Claims Credit
‘Ek Tripura, Srestha Tripura’ has been the BJP’s calling card in the state though the Opposition claims it is a farce.
In its report card, BJP cited the government’s major achievements, some of which were: social security pensions increased from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 for 3.81 lakh beneficiaries; minimum wages for construction labourers hiked; and subsidised loans provided to entrepreneurs.
In the education sector, the report card listed Mission 100 of Vidyajyoti schools, launched in January 2022, to boost the quality of education; quality augmentation schemes like Nutan Disha, inauguration of National Law University, National Forensic Science University, three new government degree colleges; and two degree colleges.
The report card mentioned the setting up of over two lakh houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Rural), 87,217 houses under the PMAY (Urban), and drinking water pipelines for more than 3.93 lakh households under the central government’s Jal Jeevan Mission. It also said that 247 kilometres of six new national highways and four in-principle national highways were upgraded to the double-lane standard with paved shoulders.
Oppositions Calls Out ‘Farce’
Jiten Choudhury, CPM’s Tripura secretary, told News18: “All these development projects are from our time. They have only performed the ribbon-cutting ceremony.”
Tipra Motha chief Pradyot Bikram Manikya Debbarma slammed the BJP for talking about the airport but ignoring the needs of the tribal community. The outfit has slammed the saffron party for “cosmetic changes" while in remote areas, people still do not have water and other facilities.
However, criticising the Opposition, Tripura BJP chief Rajiv Bhattacharya said: “It’s their jealousy since they have been unable to do anything in the state.”
As the countdown begins for the February 16 polls, it will be interesting to see if BJP’s development plank cuts ice with voters.
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