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Born in India or Bangladesh?
Tripura chief minister Biplab Deb clarified that he was born in India, following a three-day online battle that has seen his Wikipedia profile page being repeatedly changed with a set of editors claiming he was born in Bangladesh.
After the final draft of the National Register of Citizens was released on July 30, triggering citizenship debates in Assam, Deb’s Wikipedia page turned into a battleground. A total of 37 edits were made on the page, which saw his place of birth alternate between Tripura’s Gomati district and Chandpur in Bangladesh.
The first major change was recorded at 10.38am on Thursday, when the page was altered to show Deb’s birthplace as Rajdhar Nagar village in Kachua upazila, Chandpur. At 1.11pm, this was changed back to Rajdhar Nagar village in Gomati district. Another major change was made at 2.37pm that day, when the page’s “Early Life” segment described Deb as having been born “as a Bangladeshi on 25 November, 1971, in Kachua upazila, Chandpur.”
The next line read: “After illegally shifting to India, he spent his childhood and school days in Tripura”.
Deb not conceived in B’desh, says aide
These two changes were undone at 3.27pm, but the claim that he was born in Kachua upazila remained.
The rewritings continued all through Thursday. At 6.37pm, the chief minister was called “Bangladeshi Deb” in the “Early Life” segment. This was undone two minutes later at 6.39pm. Two more minutes later, at 6.41pm, the segment read: “Biplab Deb was born on 25 November 1971. After shifting to India, he spent his childhood and school days in Tripura”.
Again, at 8.10pm, the page read: “Biplab Deb was born on 25 November 1971 in Bangladesh; later his parents migrated to India as refugees from Bangladesh in 1971”. Finally, at 9.33pm, Wikipedia protected the page citing “persistent disruptive editing”.
However, changes kept being made to Deb’s place of birth on Friday and Saturday. When last checked on Sunday night, the page said he was born in Tripura. The edits did not escape Deb’s attention. “We were aware of the vandalism on Thursday itself. The chief minister’s father, Haradhan, registered himself as a citizen under the Citizenship Act of 1955 on June 27, 1967, as a resident of Udaipur in Tripura,” said Sanjoy Mishra, Deb’s media adviser.
He added that Deb was born in Udaipur (now Gomati district headquarters) on November 25, 1971, as opposed to reports on both Indian and Bangladeshi sites that claim he was “conceived” in Bangladesh and born in India. “We think content on Wikipedia and other such sites should be better monitored. There should be regulation of what goes online,” said Mishra. “Such issues are created by people who don’t believe in development politics,” he added.
(Indpaedia’s note: Bangladesh was liberated on 16 December 1971. Bhutan, and then India, ‘recognised’ Bangladesh as an independent state on 6 December 1971. On 25 November, 1971 Kachua upazila and Chandpur would, therefore, have been in East Pakistan.)
Biplab Deb, 48, will take oath on Friday as the next Chief Minister of Tripura, sources have said. An official announcement is expected on Tuesday after a meeting of the BJP's newly-elected legislators, which union ministers Nitin Gadkari and Jual Oram will oversee as central observer.
The BJP stunned the Left, in power in Tripura for the last 25 years, winning 43 of the state's 60 seats along with a regional partner Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT) in assembly elections, results for which were announced on Saturday. The BJP has won 35 seats on its own, well over the 31 it needed for a majority. It had won no seat five years ago.
The massive victory threw the spotlight on Biplab Deb, who took over two years ago as the BJP's Tripura chief, its youngest in any state. "Legislature members will decide who should be made the Chief Minister in a democratic way as BJP believes in democracy. BJP President Amit Shah and PM Modi know how to give right direction to public's suggestion," Mr Deb today said. Mr Deb has been a front-runner for the post. The BJP's Tripura partner IPFT did suggest that a tribal lawmaker be named chief minister, but it does not have the numbers to press its demand.
Tripura was considered the Left's strongest citadel, presided over by the CPM's Manik Sarkar, 69, who had been chief minister for 20 years and was seeking re-election for the fifth consecutive term. On Saturday, the Left could win only 16 seats, down 33 from last time.
In Mr Deb, the BJP sent to Tripura a young leader trained by its ideological mentor, the R-S-S or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, and mentored by Sunil Deodhar, the BJP's Tripura in-charge known for managing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's campaign in the 2014 national election in his parliamentary constituency Varanasi.
He is credited with building the party virtually from scratch since then. A BJP assessment in 2017, the party said, showed that Biplab Deb was more popular than Manik Sarkar in Tripura.
Mr Deb was born on November 25, 1969 in a middle class family in Tripura's Gomati district, in a village called Rajdhar Nagar. His father Hirudhan Deb was a local leader of the Jan Sangh, from which the BJP was born.
Biplab Deb graduated from Tripura's Udaipur College in 1999 and left for Delhi soon after to join the R-S-S, where he was a volunteer for 16 years, training under prominent leaders Gobinda Acharya and Krishnagopal Sharma.
He replaced Sudhindra Dasgupta, the longest-serving BJP chief in Tripura, in January 2016. Mr Deb's wife Niti is an officer at State Bank of India and they have a son and a daughter.
The Tripura BJP chief has sought to explain that he is not a former gym instructor, as media reports had suggested. "During a television interview, I said I used to visit the gym to exercise, but now I do not get any time to exercise. I am surprised how the media reported that I was once a gym instructor," Biplab Deb told news agency Press Trust of India.
Thus spake Biplab Deb
He had said: "Internet and satellite communication had existed in the days of 'Mahabharata'. How else could Sanjaya (the charioteer of King Dhritarashtra in the epic) give a detailed account and description to the blind king about the battle of Kurukshetra? It means internet was there, the satellites and that technology was there in this country at that time."
The Tripura CM made headlines by stating that Diana Hayden, crowned Miss World in 1997, did not deserve the title because she wasn't Indian enough. Diana Hayden was quick to respond to the distasteful remark and said, "I am fighting this brown skin bias since my childhood. And I have succeeded. People should be proud of my achievement, rather than belittling it. I am a proud brown-skinned Indian. I am hurt. The minister is in a prominent position and he should be careful about what he says."
At another event soon after, he caused another embarrassment to his party when he said that civil, and not mechanical, engineers should join the civil services. He said, “Those who are from a mechanical engineering background should not opt for civil services. Society has to be built up. Civil engineers have this knowledge… Because those in the administration have to build society.”
Why run after netas for government jobs? Graduates should get cows and milk it to earn Rs 10 lakh in 10 years. Instead of running after political parties, had the same youth set up a paan shop, he would have had a bank balance of Rs 5 lakh by now. Biplab Deb, Tripura Chief Minister,,, "There should be a cow in every house. Why run after netas for government jobs? Milk is being sold at Rs 50 per litre. Graduates should get cows and milk it to earn Rs 10 lakh in 10 years. Instead of running after political parties."
Now, Biplab Kumar Deb -- the chief minister of Tripura and the man behind all the comments noted above -- has threatened to (figuratively, we're guessing) 'chop' the nails off the critics of his government.
In a video shared by news agency ANI, Deb could be heard drawing a strange analogy to explain why people should let his government be and not 'poke' into his administration's affairs.
"Subah 8 baje, taaza lauki le aaya. Aur 9 baje tak us lauki mein itna nakhoon maar deta hai ki voh bechne ke layak nahi rehta hai. (A vegetable vendor brings fresh bottle gourd to the market in the morning, but the vegetable becomes unsellable by night after customers repeatedly poke their fingers into its flesh)," Deb was heard saying.
"Mere sarkar mein asisa nahi hona chhaaiye koi aakar usmein ungli maar de koi aake naakhoon laga de jinhone naakhoon lagaya toh uska nakhoon kaat dena chaiye (This should not happen with my government. If someone tries to interfere or 'dig their nails into my government', their nails should be chopped off," Deb continued.