From streets to assembly: Tripura teacher-turned MLA vows to fight for 10,000 sacked colleagues
Teacher turned MLA Sudip Sarkar

Agartala: The issue of over 10,000 Tripura teachers who lost their job goes back to the time before the first BJP government was formed in 2018, and in all probability, it will continue during the BJP’s second tenure too.

But for the first time, the teachers will have a voice inside the halls of the Tripura Legislative Assembly.

The CPIM may have fallen well short of their target, but they managed to get one of the teachers elected from the Barjala assembly constituency.

Sudip Sarkar may have been an MLA for only two weeks, but he believes he is already falling behind in terms of all that he needs to do. Yet, he must also remember that he is in the assembly to represent every person in their constituency, not just the sacked teachers fighting for reinstatement for over three years now.

Speaking exclusively to EastMojo, Sarkar said he has two prime objectives: One to serve the people who showed faith in him and the second to consistently draw the attention of the treasury bench upon the plight of retrenched teachers.

“In the just concluded assembly elections, I have been elected as an MLA from the 10,323 sacked teachers. The Communist Party of India Marxist gave me a ticket from 4 Barjala SC reserved assembly constituency and I got the blessings of the people. I want to thank the voters of my constituency for showing their trust in me. I will work hard to live up to their expectations. I have committed myself to be accessible to everyone in their grief as well as in their joy. Apart from that, I also have a big responsibility towards my former colleagues who are in distress. I will raise my voice for a one-time solution for the retrenched teachers,” Sarkar told EastMojo.

When asked whether he would move any special resolution to draw the notice of the government, he said, “I will certainly raise the issue of 10,323 teachers with my limited capacity for a one-time solution so that the families in distress could be saved. Ever since the results were declared several people have said different things. Some people said the chapter is closed. No one will be bothered about us. Everybody has an independent point of view. Those who are talking about us with a pinch of humour also have people in close contact who lost their jobs among us. With full respect, I would like to request and draw the attention of the Chief Minister and all his cabinet colleagues: Please take a strong decision to solve the problem of teachers.”

It is worth mentioning that soon after the results of the poll were out declaring a second term for the BJP, several senior BJP leaders wrote cryptic notes on social media platforms, indicating that the issue of sacked teachers would never gain traction again as a lot of sacked teachers bodies openly campaigned for opposition parties.  
Explaining the struggle of 10,323 as a movement for livelihood, Sarkar said the state’s development is not possible ignoring the demand of 10,323 families.  

“You are all aware of the factionalism in 10,323 teachers. Each of the groups has its stand and argument to get reinstated in the services. But, all of them have a common goal. We all have the same agenda: the affected families should be saved. When you speak about development for all, you just can’t isolate 10,323 out of the 40 lakh population of the state. Many of us are struggling to make two square meals. Several of our colleagues are seriously ill and bedridden. Due to a lack of finances, they are finding it hard to get themselves treated and raise their children properly. Some of us could not even take care of our elderly parents. And, the government must address the problems our people have been facing.”

Reminding the BJP of its poll promise of 2018, Sarkar said this is the time to act on their words. “We have been told that the constitution will be amended for the relief of 10,323 teachers. The BJP has completed one term in office and now gets re-elected. Now, this is the right time to act. We met both the Chief Ministers of the previous government. They have constituted separate committees to look after our issues and they have taken note of whatever we have said. But, nothing happened. We are appealing to the government to consider our issues on humanitarian grounds and save the families of 10,323 teachers,” he told EastMojo.

When asked about the post-poll scenario in his constituency, Sarkar said, “The elections were peaceful. The Election Commission of India has played a vital role, and people have exercised their franchise freely in the polls. To allay fear among the residents amid strong apprehensions of post-poll violence, the administration as well as our party hosted several peace meetings. But, after poll results, nothing seems to have worked out. We have seen that houses had been ransacked and vandalised in the full public glare, and incidents of arson and atrocities against people intensified to several degrees. Our constituency is also not immune to the curse of violence. Several people have faced the brunt of supporting opposition parties. I feel the path of violence will give nothing because for the next five years what will help us is the spirit of the neighbourhood. I have tried my best to extend support to the families affected by violence.”

Barjala is one of the violence-ravaged areas where the Left and Congress MPs paid a visit a few days back. A BJP worker Tapan Kumar Bhowmik was killed in violent clashes between two groups of people.  

On being asked about his party’s overall performance, Sarkar said, “The party did well. We have won new seats but failed to retain some of our old seats. The party will surely discuss and review the poll results but for now, the responsibility is on us who have won the election to discharge the role of strong and constructive opposition in the state assembly.”

Sarkar also informed EastMojo that he would go back to the protesting teachers after the swearing-in ceremony to discuss issues about their interests before joining the proceedings of the house slated to begin on March 24 next.

Left parties have fielded two candidates who are among the 10,323 sacked teachers. Sudip Sarkar from Barjala managed to emerge victorious but Satyajit Reang, the CPI candidate from Santirbazar was defeated. The 10,323 teachers had been fighting for reinstatement in service for the last three years after being terminated from services in March 2020 followed by a Supreme Court verdict.

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