Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Wednesday appealed to the "indigenous" people of the state to forget the communist legacy of the CPI(M) and embrace "democracy loving monarchs" who had worked for the welfare for all.
"There was an effort to make people forget our kings and remember Stalin and Lenin. Who knows who they are? Does any indigenous person know about them? What will happen by knowing about them?" Deb asked the audience.
He was addressing an event organised by the BJP to thank the Centre for renaming the Agartala airport after Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya, the last ruler of princely Tripura.
"Manikya kings were democracy-loving monarchs. Tripura did not have any oppressive rule like the Czarist regime in Russia," he said.
Mr Deb said all indigenous people should have images of Maharaja Bir Bikram at their homes and know that he was the architect of modern Tripura.
"Maharaja Bir Bikram's thoughts are still relevant for the development of the indigenous people. So, forget them (Stalin and Lenin)," Deb said.
The BJP-IPFT combine scripted history in March by winning the Tripura Assembly polls with two-thirds majority, ending 25 years of rule of the Left Front led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
Just days after the Left Front was defeated, two statues of Lenin were brought down in South Tripura district. The CPI(M) had accused the BJP for the incidents.
"Maharaja Bir Bikram was a rare personality. We are thankful to the Manikya kings because they were benevolent and made contributions in education including setting up the Maharaja Bir Bikram College and Maharani Tulsibati School. The Agartala airport was also built on the land donated by the Maharaja," Deb said.
Mr Deb praised state Finance Minister Jishnu Devvarma, hailing from the royal family, for preparing a 'bold' budget.
He thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah for renaming the Agartala Airport and said the move respected aspirations of 37 lakh people of Tripura.
The airport was constructed in 1942 on land donated by the Maharaja, an official statement said in New Delhi on July 4 after the Union Cabinet approved the renaming.
Meanwhile, the Tripura unit of the Trinamool Congress opposed the renaming of the airport after the king.
"Kings of Tripura exploited the people...We severely oppose renaming of the airport after such a king and demand to name it after leaders who developed democratic Tripura into a modern state," state Trinamool chief Ashish Lal Singh said.
Mr Singh, the son of the state's first chief minister Late Sachindra Lal Singha, demanded that the airport be named after any chief minister as was done in Assam and Odisha where airports were named after Gopinath Bordoloi and Biju Patnaik respectively.
He also mentioned names of other chief ministers such as Sukhamoy Sengupta of the Congress and Nripen Chakraborty and Dasharath Deb of the CPI(M).