He very recently became the chief minister of Tripura, replacing the controversial Biplab Deb, and is entering the first real election battle of his life. Dr Manik Saha is about to contest a bypoll from the Bardowali assembly seat on June 23.
Amid his busy campaign schedule, the Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former Rajya Sabha member spoke to News18 in an exclusive interview. He said that he is used to taking on new challenges, expressed confidence in securing victories in this month’s bypolls and next year’s assembly elections, vowed to keep the promises made to the people, and said the Trinamool Congress has no base in Tripura. Edited excerpts:
How does it feel to be contesting an election for the first time?
It’s a new feeling of course, and I am going door to door, reaching every house. This experience I have never had, but in this constituency, everybody knows me. My old friends are coming, they are hugging me. It feels great and I am enjoying it. People in Bardowali have known me since childhood. The party gave me the responsibility to build the organisation. I have always been with the people, and I am sure the people will vote for me. The people are supporting me, the honourable Prime Minister, and our party the BJP.
What is it like to get such a responsibility before an exam? You are on the post after Biplab Deb, and next year there will be elections.
Life is a challenge and it gives challenges. This too is a challenge for me and I will work hard. I am aware of my responsibility. When I was given the responsibility of party president, I never thought about it. When I was made an MP, I never thought about it. I just got the responsibility and I worked. I think I am capable, and the people in my party are supporting me a lot.
Critics say Biplab Deb did not keep his promises, he was unpopular, and that’s why the change. How will you keep those promises?
He is not unpopular, he is very popular, more popular than me. It happens in our party that the party decides who will do what. Now they have given me this role. Maybe there is some other important role for him. Maybe I will be given some other charge. It’s like the train and the driver has been changed; it is like a plane and the pilot has been changed. But the destination will be the same.
You promised jobs and you have not given them, say critics. How will you answer the people?
See, I have just taken over. Let the election get over and I promise all these problems will be resolved. My cabinet colleagues and I will solve all this. Next time when you talk to me, you will see all the problems resolved.
What’s the status of the TMC in Tripura? They allege that you don’t allow any opposition. That you resort to violence. That you have stopped Abhishek Banerjee.
They should not say all this. They themselves have so many flaws and they are pointing towards us. What happens in Bengal? Actually in Tripura, they don’t have any base. They come here to create a situation like in Bengal. Nobody believes them. Coming for 6 per cent votes and through the media, they want to get all this to the whole of India. I think they will not be successful.
Last time, Abhishek Banerjee was attacked and stopped from going to a rally. What will happen this time when he comes?
Anybody can come here. This is a democracy. I have told my workers not to go into any scuffles. I have also told the administration that in a democratic setup, everybody is allowed to exercise anything which is democratic.
Will you have an alliance with Pradyot Manikya Deb Barman?
I can’t say anything about that right now. The party will take a stand on this before the elections.
How do you rate the Congress and the Left?
The Left is our main opposition. The Congress will be our opposition on one seat in these bypolls, but they are not strong. I don’t take the TMC seriously because they don’t have anything and people don’t believe them at all.
Will there be violence-free bypolls? Last time, there was violence in the municipal polls.
We have given directions to our party workers not to be in any scuffles. The administration too has been given instructions. I am confident it will be peaceful.
The TMC allegation is that on Monday night their meeting was attacked…
We are addressing every issue so there will be no violence.
Why will the people vote you back?
From 2018 to the recent local body polls, we have done work everywhere. That’s why I am confident that the people will vote for us. The first time or as many times I used to do operations, it was a challenge. This too is a challenge and I know we can do it.
Read all the Latest News , Breaking News , watch Top Videos and Live TV here.