DD, AIR refuse to air Tripura's Manik Sarkar's I-Day speech: BJP calls CM 'mannerless', says remarks should not be political

The controversy over refusal by State-run broadcasters Doordarshan and All India Radio to air the Independence Day speech of Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar on Tuesday has now turned into a full-blown political war.

Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar. Image courtesy PIB

Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar. Image courtesy PIB

"The Left Front has condemned this incident and called upon the people to rise and protest. Where does Prasar Bharati get the right to ignore the speech of an elected chief minister? By doing that, they have undermined the people of the state. We will launch a 15-day campaign against the Centre protesting the treatment meted out to the Tripura chief minister," CPM state secretary Bijan Dhar told Firstpost from Agartala.

The CPM state secretary denied that the speech of the chief minister was a tirade against the Centre. "There was no mention of any government or any party. The chief minister has every right to air his views as he felt. This is what he felt was happening in the country and so he gave his views accordingly. Prasar Bharati has no authority to reject a speech made by a chief minister. This is a democratic country and people have the right to give their views," Dhar said.

Despite the claims made by the CPM state secretary, however, it was quite obvious for the politically-inclined that the speech did target the BJP and Right-wing fringe elements.

"Conspiracies and attempts are underway to create an undesirable complexity and divisions in our society; to invade our national consciousness in the name of religion, caste and community, by inciting passions to convert India into a particular religious country and in the name of protecting cow," Sarkar had apparently said in his Independence Day speech which was shared by CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury on Twitter.

"In contrast to the anti-people policies of the government at the Centre, the state government of Tripura, despite its limitations, has been pursuing policies for the welfare of the people in all walks of life with a special focus on the downtrodden, and to advance their cooperation forward," the Tripura chief minister said.

Annoyed by the accusations against the Narendra Modi government at the Centre, the BJP reacted sharply to the Tripura chief minister.

"Whatever he said it is highly objectionable. The speech during the flag hoisting has to be non-political. The chief minister must talk about achievements and challenges. What he did was criticise the Centre in extremely bad words. The Tripura chief minister was mannerless in his conduct. However, we have not decided on our next course of action," said BJP central observer for Tripura, Sunil Deodhar.

This has since snowballed into a huge controversy, particularly since the state will hold Assembly elections early next year. Stakes are already high, with the BJP making deep inroads into the Left bastion, hitherto well protected by Sarkar, the man who is in his 19th consecutive year as chief minister.

BJP has made its intentions quite clear, as six MLAs of the Trinamool Congress and one from Congress broke ranks to join the saffron party recently.

"CPM cadres are joining our party on a daily basis. Some of the CPM MLAs are also in touch with us quietly but they cannot say so in public because of the code of conduct," Deodhar said.

In the 60-member Tripura Assembly, CPM has 49 MLAs while the BJP has six legislators after they quit the Trinamool Congress en masse to join the BJP. The party did not win a single seat in the 2013 Assembly election.

Updated Date: Aug 17, 2017 08:31 AM

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