Why Tripura CM Biplab Deb has turned into a parody of himself

Pathikrit Sanyal
Pathikrit SanyalApr 30, 2018 | 20:22

Why Tripura CM Biplab Deb has turned into a parody of himself

"If Modi ji can pay 15 lakhs to everyone after getting money from Dalmia Group then what is wrong in it. Please should be happy. What is the use of Red Fort? Nothing."

A parody Twitter account mimicking news agency's ANI's handle attributed this quote to Tripura’s newly elected CM Biplab Kumar Deb, and many did believe it was indeed Deb who said this.


Why would they not? For starters, BJP leaders have, time and again, proven their talent for making absurd statements and offering unjustifiable justifications. The assertion that the ruling party would earn enough money from the Dalmia group in exchange for the Red Fort in order to fulfil a long-forgotten election promise seems oddly plausible.

Photo: Screengrab

What further makes this baseless statement believable is Biplab Deb’s track record.

With a slew of asinine remarks, Biplab Deb has ensured that he not only sounds like a “random BJP statement generator”, but has also achieved meme glory that both works and doesn’t work for the BJP.

On April 28, while attending an event in Agartala to mark Civil Service Day, the Tripura CM said, “If a civil engineer becomes an Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer, he can give inputs in construction projects, which mechanical engineers cannot.” He added, “One should not opt for civil services after studying mechanical engineering. Civil engineers have the experience and knowledge to help build administration and society. Civil engineering gives that kind of knowledge.”

Deb issued a clarification, which was only mildly better than his original statement: "I did not say that mechanical engineers must not go for civil services. I said that civil engineers should join civil services as they have experience about administration."


Photo: DailyO

This was not the only time Deb demonstrated how he fits his foot firmly into his mouth. On April 17, while inaugurating a two-day workshop on the computerisation of Public Distribution System (PDS), Deb claimed: "Internet and satellite communication had existed in the days of Mahabharata. Sanjay [the charioteer of king Dhritarashtra] using the technology gave a detailed account and description to the blind king about the battle of Kurukshetra."

He went one step ahead with this terriblly delusional claim: “The Europeans and the Americans may claim that it is their invention, but it is actually our technology. Internet and satellite system had existed lakhs of year ago. How could Dhritarashtra see through Sanjay's eyes? There was technology available at that time... Internet was there, satellite communication was there.”

Shortly after this, on April 26, in a blatant display of vintage BJP sexism and subtle communalism, Deb, while addressing a workshop for handlooms and handicrafts, said: "We see women as goddess Laxmi, Saraswati. Aishwarya Rai represents the Indian women. She became the Miss World and that's all right. But I do not understand the beauty of Diana Hayden."

Of course, the BJP minister has a hard time understanding the dark-skinned allure of an Indian Christian woman whom he can’t deify as a “devi”.


And at his peak, Deb also made a comment about employment, drawing obvious inspiration from the party’s routine cow politics and Narendra Modi’s “selling pakodas is better than being unemployed” remark. Addressing a crowd at a seminar by the Tripura Veterinary Council, the first BJP chief minister of Tripura asked everyone to stop chasing government jobs; he suggested that everyone take up rearing cows or setting up paan (betel) shops instead.

“Every household should have a cow. Milk is being sold at Rs 50 per litre in Tripura. If a graduate, who keeps job hunting for 10 years, rears a cow, he would earn Rs 10 lakh. Instead of running after political parties to get government jobs and wasting the vital time of their life, the same youth could have had a bank balance of Rs five lakh had they set up a paan shop.”

Deb’s statements — both real and fictional — do their bit to add The Onion (a US news satire website) flavour to the country’s sorry political discourse. But whom does it benefit? Certainly not the people.

Ludicrous claims, fatuous career advice, and a casual mix of bigotry and sexism don’t help anyone.

But does the party benefit from his series of gaffes?

Perhaps it does.

If reports are to be believed, Biplab Deb is scheduled to fly to Delhi on May 1 for a meeting of all chief ministers with PM Modi. Do we think Deb will be reprimanded by his boss? According to sources, the prime minister is likely to call him separately for a talk; one that may also include BJP president Amit Shah. But it is unlikely that he will face any serious heat. After all, ridiculously tall claims about the scientific prowess of ancient Hindus is a regular trope for the BJP. 

Talking about cows may not help the BJP in Tripura, but every time party cadres do talk about bovine intervention, they receive the warm praise of supporters from elsewhere in the country. And making sexist remarks that also have a communal connotation only adds to the party’s “street cred”.

More importantly, Biplab Deb’s constant stream of quotable quotes has another advantage. It acts as a distraction, the same way Sakshi Maharaj’s statements act as a distraction. Perhaps, from yet another cash crunch, or whispers of corruption, or an acute job crisis, or one of the many other problems that grip the party at present.

Why has Biplab Deb turned into a parody of himself? It works for the BJP. And it works for Deb. After all, when has the mainstream media paid this much attention to a Tripura CM in the past?

Last updated: May 01, 2018 | 12:28
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