Interview: Arun Bhowmik, BJP

'This is an ideological victory'

Print edition : March 30, 2018

Arun Bhowmik.

Interview with Arun Bhowmik, chief spokesperson of the BJP in Tripura.

ARUN BHOWMIK, member of the core committee and chief spokesperson of the Tripura unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party , is a senior advocate in the Tripura High Court. He was a former MLA of the Janata Dal and served in the Congress for a while when the Janata Dal merged with it in Tripura. In 2015 he joined the BJP. Bhowmik is also the head of the legal cell of the BJP. Excerpts from an interview he gave Frontline:

This kind of landslide victory was not expected. What was it that the BJP did that the Congress, after years of being the main opposition, could never do?

Actually, it was expected. It was a wrong understanding and calculation by those who thought the CPI(M) had a chance of coming back. Earlier, I had told you that we [the BJP-IPFT combine] would win 45 seats; we won 43 with election to one seat still to go.

The only reason why we could succeed while the Congress could not in the last 25 years is the discipline in our party and its rank and file. Unlike in the Congress, there was no infighting in the Tripura unit of the BJP and we worked unitedly, with complete dedication. We fielded our candidates without any fuss, and whatever decision the party took the workers accepted without question. The people of the State took note of this and realised that ours was the party that could defeat the CPI(M), and so we could tap the massive anti-incumbency sentiment that the people had been nursing for a long time. The people of Tripura found their leader in Narendra Modi at the national level, and a nationalist wave has since been sweeping the State. The people also realised that the BJP would be able to deliver much more than the CPI(M). After all, we are a big national party that is in power at the Centre whereas the CPI(M) has been reduced to insignificance. The people will obviously choose the more powerful party that will be more capable of addressing their problems. The people now feel free of the CPI(M) rule, which was a government of the party, by the party, for the party.

But discipline alone cannot increase a party’s vote share from 1.8 per cent in 2013 to 43 per cent.

Well, that is Modi. And it [the Modi wave] is now moving towards West Bengal.

How did the BJP build its organisational base in such a short period?

This was owing to the efforts of our party president Amit Shah and, of course, Modiji. Amit Shah has come here countless times, and taken note of the functioning and development of the party at every level. He would discuss with us for hours, and personally chart out what course to take. Under the leadership of Amit Shah and Ram Madhav [national general secretary of the BJP] the party has grown to its present form.

So, the central BJP leadership had its eyes on Tripura right from the start?

It is our duty to defeat the communists in the country. This victory is an ideological victory.

What is the main reason for the CPI(M)’s defeat?

Their arrogance and their brand of politics which caters only to the interest of the party and party members. For so many years—10 years from 1977 and the last 25 consecutive years—the State was under CPI(M) party regimentation. A section of the people benefitted from the party and the government, while the rest was totally left out. The most unfortunate thing was that all entitlements of the common people were being determined by political identity—whether a person supports the CPI(M) or not. Even a person’s means of livelihood was affected if he was not seen as a Left supporter. Mostly those belonging to the weaker sections were the victims of the CPI(M)’s discriminatory behaviour. Finally people got fed up, and when they had a viable alternative, the people voted them out of power.

Alongside this, there was rampant corruption within the party. I myself had taken them to court on the issue of illegally hiring 10,323 teachers in government schools, and the High Court not only dismissed the illegal appointees, but also made serious adverse remarks against the government. The Supreme Court also upheld the High Court judgment.

Please comment on the violence that is taking place after the results were declared.

There is hardly any violence. If you compare with what used to happen during CPI(M) times, it is nothing. After every election CPI(M) cadres would wreak havoc on the people, but no step was taken against them because they belonged to the party. The CPI(M) is unnecessarily complaining. People are rejoicing everywhere. Wherever there is any trouble, BJP activists are stopping it.