A police complaint has been filed against a BJP MLA in Tripura's capital Agartala after he tried to install a statue of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at a regional cancer care centre. BJP MLA Sudip Roy Barman tried the install the statue at Atal Bihari Vajpayee Regional Cancer Centre on the former prime minister's birth anniversary today, also celebrated by the ruling BJP as Good Governance Day.
Mr Barman is Tripura's former health minister; he was removed from the cabinet led by Chief Minister Biplab Deb.
Three workers who were trying to install the statue have been detained by the police after a complaint by the hospital's superintendent.
Mr Barman said he had taken permission from the hospital superintendent and even invited Governor Ramesh Bais and the Chief Minister, but the Chief Minister's Office joint secretary Sumit Roy Choudhury in a letter to Mr Barman said he was out of his constitutional bounds by installing a statue in government land.
"Though the initiative was noble, you do not have the authority to construct a statue in a government land without taking the permissions from the government first. If you had the right intentions, you would have informed well in advance and given the government time to process your proposal and then, would have erected the statue after taking the due permissions," Mr Choudhury said in the letter, alleging Mr Barman of "misusing constitutional power".
Mr Barman was health minister and was instrumental in setting up the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Regional Cancer Centre in Agartala, his constituency.
"As MLA and member of the hospital's welfare society, I wished to commemorate the birth anniversary of Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji, on whom the health centre was also named, by erecting a statue of him. I had hoped the party would cut across political differences and support me in this initiative that wasn't meant to be political," Mr Barman told local media.
Mr Barman said that along with three other MLAs, he sought permission from the hospital superintendent on December 19 to install the statue on December 25.
"He had initially appreciated the move and thus the work to set the base of the statue began. But the next day, he told us that the request has been sent to the administration and it was awaiting approval," Mr Barman said.
"On December 21, they invited the Governor requesting him to inaugurate the statue and the next day, on December 22, invited the Chief Minister to grace the event as chief guest", Mr Barman added.
"On December 23, the Governor said he would attend only if the chief minister does, to which, we have assured that we have invited him too. But there was no further communication from either the Chief Minister's Office or the superintendent. So we went ahead with the function as the statue had already arrived from Kolkata. But the police intervened," Mr Barman said.
There have been differences between the Biplab Deb government and Mr Barman. Local media has reported that a group of 10 MLAs and several state leaders, allegedly led by Mr Barman, visited Delhi in October to discuss the state BJP issues with the central leadership.
Mr Barman, 54, son of former chief minister and Congress leader Samir Ranjan Barman, had led seven MLAs to join the BJP in June 2017 from the Trinamool Congress (TMC), along with other party leaders and workers. He was considered instrumental in inking an alliance with IPFT.