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Grey by Hair, Young by Thought: Tripura CM Hopeful Biplab Deb on PM Modi

Having secured absolute majority in the 60-seat Tripura assembly, BJP’s Parliamentary Board is all set to meet on Saturday evening to decide on the successor to outgoing CM Manik Sarkar.

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Updated:March 3, 2018, 3:16 PM IST
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Grey by Hair, Young by Thought: Tripura CM Hopeful Biplab Deb on PM Modi
File Photo of Tripura BJP chief Biplab Deb Kumar.
New Delhi: Tripura BJP chief Biplab Deb Kumar on Saturday said he would abide by the party’s leadership’s decision if picked to lead the government in the state.

In an exclusive interview to CNN-News18 after the BJP secured a historic mandate in Tripura, Deb also took a dig at Rahul Gandhi, saying one doesn’t remain a “youth leader” after crossing the age of 50. Praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Deb said, “Narendra Modi may have grey hair, but his thought process is that of a youthful person. Age is in the mind and Modi ii thinks like a young person.”

Having secured absolute majority in the 60-seat Tripura assembly, BJP’s Parliamentary Board is all set to meet on Saturday evening to decide on the successor to outgoing CM Manik Sarkar.

Deb, a home-grown talent who has been associated with the RSS for a long time, is a top contender. Born in Akraban, Udaipur in Gomoti District of Tripura, Biplab was in the national capital for 15 years.

The 48-year-old has the backing of the central leadership as they think of him as one of their own and not an ‘opportunist’ politician who moves from ship to ship. In a party where almost half the candidates were former Congress leaders, this can be a big fillip for him.

Deb, however, is being cautious. “I am just the state president right now. The Parliamentary Board will decide who will get what responsibility. I think the central leadership is more than capable of deciding all these things. I don’t think you should credit me for this victory. This is a victory of the people of Tripura.”

His entry into politics happened only recently. He stayed in Tripura in his early years and got a BA Degree from Tripura University. Deb shifted to the national capital for higher studies and stayed in New Delhi for 15 years.

Before joining politics, he worked as a gym instructor in Delhi. However, it was his work as a Pracharak with the RSS that was his pathway to politics.

An old RSS hand, Sunil Deodhar had worked in Meghalaya for the better part of the last decade to expand the Sangh’s footprint in the region. He is said to be the brains behind the BJP’s door-to-door campaign in Tripura.

During his time in Tripura, Deodhar felt the need for a “face” of the BJP in Tripura to counter the popularity of Manik Sarkar, India’s poorest CM who held the high office for 20 years from 1998 to 2018. Deodhar said in an interview that he could not think of anyone better than Deb to lead the party from the front.

Deb has been the “face” of the BJP in the state, even though he was never declared as the Chief Ministerial candidate. Deb was instrumental in bringing several key Congress leaders, such as MLA Sudip Roy Barman, who joined the BJP in August 2017.

During the campaign, Deb told CNN-News 18, he was daunted by the fact that he was up against a four-time Chief Minister and a political heavyweight like Manik Sarkar. “I was never intimidated. I had promised my central leadership that this time, there would be a BJP government in Tripura.”

With the majority secured, Deb is tipped to be the next CM. But what can go against him is if the party decides to install a tribal leader as the Chief Minister. The state has not seen a Tribal Chief Minister in last 25 years.

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