It will not be understating to say that the Tripura Chief Minister, Biplab Deb – Biplab means revolution – courts controversies. He definitely seems to suffer from the ‘revolutionary quality’ foot-in-the-mouth syndrome. For a public figure it is the worst nightmare and in today’s day and age of social media, it has turned him into a fodder for the gossip mills and innumerable memes.
Deb in the last few weeks has regaled the country with several faux pas. Even before the furor over his controversial statement on WiFi being available during the Mahabharat era could die down, he presented his view on beauty pageants. While he praised Aishwarya Rai for being an Indian beauty and winning the coveted Miss World title, in the same breath he criticized Diana Hayden for being an ‘underserving’ winner. His logic was that Rai uses mud packs instead of soap and used methi instead of shampoo while Hayden used commercial products thus, her win was simply to promote consumer industries in India. It could have been written off as hilarious except that women would have nothing of it.
No sooner than he had said it, the media was up in arms and women took him to task for calling Hayden ‘undesrving’ ostensibly because of her ‘brown skin.’ Diana Hayden too came on TV to say that she was “proud of her brown skin.” Deb had to apologize. Just when things were getting back to normal, he fired another missile only hours after the apology. Speaking to Civil Services aspirants at an event organized to commemorate the Civil Services Day, he asked Mechanical Engineers to keep out of the Civil Services exams and the Civil Engineers to go for it.
His reason was that the Civil Engineers were better suited for the role because of their training which he called, ‘course’. People were holding their sides in laughter because, most felt it was way too funny to deserve a serious reply. So, memes were the order of the day.
Even as the public was recovering from the “joke” and the Bharatiya Janata Party from the facepalm moment, he went to another meeting, this time organized by the Tripura Veterinary Council on ‘The role of the veterinary profession in sustainable development to improve livelihoods, food security, and safety’, on the eve of World Veterinary Day.
Here the CM dropped another gag bomb. He suggested the youth of the state, especially the educated section, not to run behind politicians for government jobs, rather become self-employed by starting various projects under the animal resource sector with bank loans, under the Prime Minister’s Mudra scheme.
He told the youth that it is better to set up a “paan shop” and earn than, run after politicians for government jobs. “The youth here runs after political parties for several years to get a govt job and wastes the vital time of their life, had the same youth instead of running after parties set up a paan shop he would have by now had a bank balance of Rs 5 lakhs,” said Deb.
This time people were not taking it as a joke because, it fell in line with another mush-criticized statement by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi where he had spoken about what is now known as ‘Pakoda-economics’.
According to the venerable CM, any unemployed youth with a minimum amount of Rs 75,000 borrowed from a bank and with little self-effort, can easily earn at least Rs 25,000 every month. He ‘blamed’ the ‘culture that has grown in Tripura during the last 25 years’ to have become a hurdle in this growth.
He said that there are narrow-minded concepts like a graduate cannot opt for farming, start poultry or piggery because if he does so, “his class will go down”.
Deb highlighted that the Narendra Modi government at the Centre has provided various bank loans provisions for the startup projects under the Mudra scheme, so that people can get self-employed and live with “prestige”.
However, due to the “mindset”, educated youth do not opt to join the various traditional sectors in agriculture and allied sectors, which are also equally important for sustainable development to improve livelihoods and food security of the nation.
Here’s a man who obviously puts the blue collar higher above white but, his tenor in the last two days ensures that he is not a great supporter of higher education or interested in creating jobs within the State – or does it?
Some might speculate his utterances as extreme opposite to that of the Communist party’s stand that has ruled the State for years now and perhaps he wants to bring in a new era. Some speculate that it could be in-line with his party’s policies because the PM too had said something similar on a TV show a few months back. Maybe he believes in what he says, maybe someone else writes his speech and is deliberately and surreptitiously feeding such nuggets in. The jury is still out on this.
Perhaps we will never know for sure because the CM shoots off so much probably without thinking that one cannot be really sure if he is speaking seriously or in jest. Only time will tell. Meanwhile, “laughter, they say, is a great medicine.”