Tripura CM has said that the ‘BJP plans to expand party’s base in Sri Lanka and Nepal’.
New Delhi : Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb has sparked a row after he claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has plans of expanding the party’s base overseas, especially in Sri Lanka and Nepal. Deb, who is no stranger to controversial statements, said that Amit Shah had told a party meeting at Rabindra Satabarshiki Bhavan, during his visit to Tripura on Saturday, that BJP wanted to establish the party and form governments in neighbouring countries after winning all states in India. Several senior leaders from BJP and RSS in the region met Deb on Wednesday, following the controversy over his comments. BJP’s North-East zonal secretary Ajay Jamwal, and RSS regional in-charge Ullas Kulkarni and state in-charge Nikhil Niwaskar met the chief minister on Wednesday. According to reports, the leaders discussed the comments that triggered the controversy along with organizational matters.
When The Sunday Guardian reached out to Ajay Jamwal, he refused to comment on the matter.
Dr Manik Saha, President, BJP-Tripura Unit, told The Sunday Guardian: “Whatever the CM said, it is being misinterpreted. What he wanted to say was just like Marxism, Leninism, we have integral humanism and this is what he said. He was trying to say that this concept of integral humanism will spread to countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka. His statement was not related to politics. Some media channels and Opposition parties, who are against him, always intentionally exaggerate and misinterpret his statements. There is so much development in Tripura right now and that’s why the Opposition is making a big deal out of this.”
The Opposition, such as Left parties and Congress, had slammed the BJP leadership, saying the party’s plans are against India’s foreign policies.
Days after his statement, Nepal has conveyed a “formal objection” to India over Biplab Kumar Deb’s comments. Responding to a tweet from a Nepalese citizen on Deb’s remarks, Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali said: “Noted. Formal Objection has been conveyed.” As per Kathmandu Post, Nepali Ambassador to India Nilamber Acharya made a phone call to Joint Secretary in-charge of Nepal and Bhutan at India’s Ministry of External Affairs Arindam Bagchi and sought clarification.
According to reports, the Communist Party of Nepal (Prachanda faction) Central and Nepalese Migration Coordination Committee chairman Yuvraj Chaulgai said that such statements are an insult to Nepal’s sovereignty.
Speaking to BBC, Yuvraj said, “This comment of the Chief Minister of the Bharatiya Janata Party shows what the ruling class of India thinks about Nepal. How can he say this? Nepal is a sovereign nation, and any comment about the country should respect that.” He said he’s surprised where the BJP gets such confidence to talk like this about Nepal. “They think since Hindus live in the majority in Nepal, so they can say anything they want about the country,” Yuvraj said.
Deb’s comments dominated the newspaper headlines in the country. Naya Patrika, a Nepali newspaper, wrote in its report on 15 February, “Has this secret plan of the BJP come out? The RSS is already expanding its footprint in Nepal. In such a situation, is this comment of the BJP Chief Minister well-planned or coincidental? There was an RSS conference in Veerganj. This conference was inaugurated by Kalyan Timilsina, the national convenor of RSS in Nepal. A concern was raised about conversions and RSS volunteers took out a march from Virganj market.”
Meanwhile, Hiranya Lal Shrestha, Nepal’s former ambassador to Russia, said that Deb’s comments indicated fundamental thinking of the RSS and BJP, as per reports. After his comments, Sri Lanka’s Election Commission Chairman Nimal Punchihewa on Monday said that a political party of a foreign country cannot be established in the island country under any circumstances.
“It is not possible for them to set up their branches in Sri Lanka and contest. If it is a party in Sri Lanka, they can form a party out of the citizens of Sri Lanka, work continuously for 4 or 5 years and contest elections; only in such a background will they be able to contest as a recognized party. Without it, no matter how strong a party is, it will not be able to form branches and compete here. It cannot be done according to law. Alliances can be formed between the parties in the country. This cannot be done by forming alliances with foreign parties,” Punchihewa said, as per Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Today.
While addressing a media briefing on Tuesday, Sri Lanka’s Co-Cabinet spokesman Udaya Gammanpila said that the official opinion of the government cannot be expressed with regard to a rumour. “Indian Home Minister Amit Shah had not made any statement that there were plans to form the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Sri Lanka as well. It could be officially accepted only if the Indian government made a statement,” Gammanpila said as per Ceylon Today. However, the Minister also said that he does not believe that the “patriotic” people of this country would allow a foreign political party to seize political power in this country.
On Saturday, Deb said Shah, while serving as BJP president, had told party leaders that the BJP would establish rule in other regional countries as part of the “Atmanirbhar South Asia” initiative. Deb said the BJP deeply valued the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) partnership.
“We were talking in the state guest house when Ajay Jamwal (northeast zonal secretary of BJP) said that BJP had formed its government in several states of India. In reply, Shah said that now Sri Lanka and Nepal are left. We have to expand the party in Sri Lanka, Nepal, and win there to form a government,” Deb had said. “We have to expand the party in Sri Lanka, Nepal and win there to form a government,” Biplab Deb quoted Amit Shah as having reportedly said.
The Sunday Guardian reached out to Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb for comments, but didn’t receive any response till the story went to press.