Tripura’s former deputy CM Jishnu Deb Verma may be selected for the assembly by-election for the Dhanpur seat

Former Deputy CM of Tripura Jishnu Deb Verma Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar

Former Deputy Chief Minister of Tripura Jishnu Deb Verma, who lost in assembly elections He is expected to be the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate in the by-election for Dhanpur constituency in Sepahijala district, to be held on February 16. Although the election schedule has not been announced, but the BJP has started preparations at every level.

Dhanpur became empty after Union Minister of State Pratima Bhowmik Resigned even after winning the seat by a margin of 3,500 votes against his CPI(M) rival. After the BJP high command retained Dr. Manik Saha as the chief minister, he opted to continue with his ministerial berth in the Union cabinet.

Ms Bhowmik had unsuccessfully contested the 2018 assembly elections from Dhanpur against former chief minister Manik Sarkar. Mr. Sarkar has won the constituency continuously since 1998, and was not a candidate in the assembly elections held this year.

Apart from Jishnu Deb Verma, two other names – BJP state president Rajib Bhattacharjee and former MLA Subal Bhowmick, who frequently changes coats – are doing the rounds for Dhanpur. Sources said that there is every possibility of Jishnu Deb Verma getting the party ticket.

Uncle was not spared

A member of the state’s royal family, Jishnu Deb Varma, who was finance and energy minister for five years, lost by a small margin of 858 votes in his home constituency Charilam (ST-reserved). The seat was won by a candidate from Tipra, a regional party formed by Pradyot Kishore Debbarman, a royal scion of the state.

Interestingly, Mr. Pradyot did not fight against CPI(M) state secretary Jitendra Chowdhary and Congress strongman Sudip Roy Barman on their respective seats, but he did not spare his ‘uncle’ Jishnu Deb Verma either.

Dhanpur is a general constituency but has a large tribal population and Muslim voters are a deciding factor. Both the communities were traditionally the support segment of the CPI(M) till Tipra (Tipra Indigenous People’s Regional Alliance) entered the political scene of the state two years ago.

On 19 April, TIPRA sources said that the party may not contest the bypoll in Dhanpur as the party is now focusing its energy on elections to 587 village committees (similar to panchayats) under the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council. The party has moved the High Court to direct the State Election Commission to conduct the elections at the earliest.