Manik Saha is likely to return as the Tripura Chief Minister with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) securing a clear majority in the state Assembly elections, the results of which were declared on Thursday, March 2. The BJP bagged 32 seats in the 60-member Assembly to secure its second consecutive electoral victory in the state.
The newly formed Tipra Motha Party of Pradyot Bikram Manikya Deb Barma came second with 13 seats while the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was relegated to the third spot with 11 while its alliance partner Congress managed to bag just three.
Manik Saha himself won the election from his own constituency Town Bordowali by defeating Congress candidate Asis Kumar Saha with a margin of 1257 votes and almost 50 per cent vote share. Saha, who is also a professor of dental surgery, was entrusted by the party leadership to guide the party towards victory in the multi-cornered contest state assembly elections.
Born on January 8, 1953, Manik Saha is the 11th Chief Minister of Tripura. He took over as the head of the state in May 2022, a few months after the then CM Biplab Kumar Deb stepped down from the position. A former Congress leader, Saha joined the saffron party in 2016 and was made the state party chief in 2020.
The 70-year-old Saha also has a medical background as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. He is also a member of the Dental Council of India. He recently performed surgery on a 10-year-old boy at the Tripura Medical College while being in the Chief Minister's office. Saha is a former badminton player and has served as the president of the Tripura Cricket Association too.
In 2022, Saha contested the first-ever election and won from the Town Bardowali Assembly constituency during by-polls. He was a Rajya Sabha member from Tripura but resigned as a member of the Upper House after winning the by-election.
Notably, BJP formed its government in Tripura for the first time in 2018 when the party registered a historic victory with 34 seats in the 60-seat assembly, defeating the CPI (M), which had been in power in the state since 1998.
In order to woo the voters, the BJP in 2018 made a poll promise to implement the 7th pay commission. It also approached the Tribal groups of the state and formed an alliance with the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT). While the BJP did organise massive rallies with 52 union ministers touring Tripura during the campaign, the groundwork was established by four leaders - Himanta Biswa Sarma, Sunil Deodhar, Biplab Kumar Deb and Ram Madhav.
Biplab Kumar Deb was elected as the CM of the state after the win in 2018 and just a year before the completion of his five-year term the BJP leader stepped down from his post in a bid to strengthen the party for upcoming polls.
In an exclusive conversation with Republic, Manik Saha asserted that the development of the state will remain the PM Modi-led BJP government's top most priority. "Issues of job opportunities will be taken up, development initiatives are underway and we are going to accelerate it. Whether it is agriculture, tourism, health, or the education sector, our government has already kickstarted the work in our previous term and will emphasise the enhancement work in this term."