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December 31, 2018

As the curtains come down for 2018, only pondering in introspection over one of the most eventful years in the history of Tripura would not suffice but a pledge to amend the bitter past while welcoming and nurturing the good is just one of the few things we could pledge to take forward in 2019.

From BJP’s massive victory in state to the rise of Swapan Debbarma who saved the lives of several people by averting a major train accident, the year has been an eventful one.

The year 2018 not only put the state CM Biplab Kumar Deb amidst controversies but also intensified the demand for NRC with the royal scion Pradyot Bikram Manikya Debbarma submitting a writ petition in the Supreme Court to demand NRC in the state.

Here is a look at 2018 events in brief:

The BJP storming to power ending 25 years of Left rule was the major news in Tripura in 2018 — which saw some cracks in the ruling alliance with the IPFT fighting the panchayat elections separately and also raking up its separate Twipraland demand.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT) also differed sharply on the issue of a National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the state, like the one in neighbouring Assam.

The lotus bloomed in Tripura in March, after which a nine-member ministry headed by Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb took oath in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Congress, which hitherto used to be the main challenger to the Left Front in the state, lost ground and could not get even a single MLA elected to the 60-member house in the February poll.

In the news for the wrong reasons

After taking charge, Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb was in the news for the wrong reasons. He made several remarks that triggered widespread criticism — the Internet and satellite communication existed during Mahabharata era, civil and not mechanical engineers should opt for civil services, educated youths should set up paan shops instead of seeking government jobs and youths should explore a career in the dairy field and keep cows.

He was also rapped for questioning the crowning of Diana Hayden as Miss World in 1997 and claiming that Rabindranath Tagore had rejected his Nobel prize in protest against the British government.

Local body bypolls

The new government conducted by-elections to 3,386 seats of local bodies — 3,200 gram panchayat, 161 panchayat samiti and 18 zilla parishad — in September after these fell vacant following large-scale resignations of elected representatives of the Left parties.

The BJP won unopposed 96 per cent of the gram panchayat and panchayat samiti seats and all the 18 zila parishad seats in the polls.

In November, the Tripura government announced doing away with the school curriculum of the Left regime from next academic session and replacing it with CBSE syllabus and also decided introduction of NCERT books for students.

The shift of power witnessed violent clashes between the CPI(M) and the BJP at many places during 2018.

The CPI-M state secretary had on March 4 alleged that at least two persons were murdered and 240 leaders and workers of the party were injured in BJP-IPFT sponsored post poll violence in the state.

On April 10, CPI (M) leader Prakash Karat visited some areas in West Tripura district and said his party would not “tolerate attacks on democracy”.

Differences between BJP, IPFT

While the BJP and the IPFT bonded to overthrow the Left Front from power, differences soon started cropped up between them on several issues.

The IPFT fought election to three-tier local bodies separately but could not stop the BJP’s forward march in the state.

Soon after the publication of the final draft of the NRC in Assam on July 30, Deb said there was no demand for such a citizens’ register. But the IPFT differed and demanded citizens’ registration in the state.

On October 8, the Supreme Court issued a notice to the Tripura government in response to a writ petition seeking revision of the NRC.

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi issued the notice to the state and central asking for their views.

Here are other important events that mark the year

** In October, the IPFT renewed its demand for a separate Tipraland state for tribals to protect and safeguard their socio-economic and political interests.

The IPFT placed the demand to a high power committee set up by the Ministry of Home Affairs to probe the socio-economic, cultural and linguistic problems faced by Tripura’s tribal communities.

** On September 19, 110 members of the 21 Bru families were repatriated to Mamith district of Mizoram after the historic four corner agreement was signed to repatriate the Bru refugees.

** In October itself, CPI-M’s mouthpiece “Daily Desher Katha”, a Bengali daily was banned for allegedly violating the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867. However Daily Deshar Katha resumed publication after High Court ordered stay on ban.

** On October 11, the 7th Central Pay Commission was implemented in state.

** The year 2018 proved unfeasible in the aviation sector. SpiceJet Airlines Authority have decided to  withdraw all their services from Agartala Airport starting from September 1st due to huge revenue losses suffered by them . This was immediately after Jet Airways withdrew its services.

** Tripura’s Queen variety pineapple began to be exported to Dubai for the first time this year.

** Tripura Government handed over the tragic unnatural death case of minor Lahari Debbarma to CID. The student’s death shook the state and caused statewide protests demanding justice for the deceased.

** Earlier this year, Tripura government decided to introduce biometric attendance and a newly built app to ensure timely attendance and track performance of employees and officers of the government.

** In the month of March, the national anthem was played for the first time in the Tripura assembly.

As the year drew to a close, Tripura is set to get a waterways between Sonamura in Sipahijala district and Ashuganj port in Eastern Bangladesh covering a distance of about 70 km. This would facilitate transportation of goods from Kolkata to Ashuganj and then to Sonamura by small ships.

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