Agartala: The Biplab Kumar Deb led-Tripura government on Tuesday expanded the cabinet to fill three out of four slots which had been lying vacant since March 2018 when the BJP-IPFT government came to power.
Three MLAs – Sushanta Chowdhury, Ram Prasad Paul and Bhagaban Das were elevated to the council of ministers. Tripura Governor Satyadev Narayan Arya administered the oath-taking ceremony to the newly inducted members.
This is the first Biplab Kumar Deb led-cabinet expansion since the BJP-IPFT government came to power. The departments are yet to be announced.
After the ceremony, CM Biplab Kumar Deb told reporters that his government has been working tirelessly for the development of the state.
“All the newly-inducted members are young and their entry will strengthen the cabinet to work with more confidence and dedication towards the goal of the government,” Deb said.
One of the youngest ministers, Sushanta Chowdhury, a first-time MLA, was elected from Majlishpur assembly constituency in 2018 after defeating the sitting minister of transport and senior CPI-M leader Manik Dey with a margin of 3,890 votes.
The 41-year-old MLA was also a close confidant of former health minister and BJP MLA Sudip Roy Barman. Chowdhury joined BJP in 2017 from Trinamool Congress and was given the ticket from Majlishpur assembly constituency.
He defeated the CPIM leader Manik Dey securing 23,249 votes surprising the people as Dey was five-time MLA from the assembly constituency. However, after waiting for his elevation in the minister for more than two years, he criticised the chief minister for holding over two dozen departments to himself. He was also seen visiting Delhi with the dissident MLAs placing demands to change the leadership in state and organisation.
MLA Ram Prasad Paul, 53-year-old, is also a first-time MLA from the Suryamaninagar assembly constituency. He won the election against CPI-M candidate and sitting MLA Rajkumar Choudhury with a margin of 4,567 votes.
Paul, who was associated with the RSS, often remains in the headlines for his vocal speech against the opposition CPIM and criticising his own party leaders.
He was also seen with the group of dissident leaders in Delhi visiting central leaders complaining about the organisation lapses. However, he refuted the media reports and said that his visits were part of organisational matters.
Bhagaban Das, who represents the Pabiacherra assembly constituency, a Schedule Caste (SC) reserve seat is also a first-time legislator from BJP. He won the election securing 22,815 votes against CPIM candidate Samiran Malakar with a margin of 5,827 votes. He was among the poorest MLAs with a total asset of Rs 1,97,619 according to the affidavit filed by him during the 2018 assembly elections. Das started his career as RSS Pracharak in 1997 and held the responsibility as Unakoti district president.
The BJP-IPFT alliance defeated the Left Front government in the 2018 general assembly elections, winning 44 out of 66 seats. The BJP won 36 seats while its ally IPFT won eight out of nine seats that it contested.
Currently, there are four vacancies in the Tripura council of ministers. Three seats in the Tripura cabinet were kept vacant since the government came to power. One more became vacant after the exit of former health minister Sudip Roy Barman in 2019.
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