New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Biplab Deb on Friday took oath as the 20th chief minister of Tripura, making the first BJP government in the state under the banner of National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

Prime minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah, Union ministers and BJP chief ministers attended the swearing-in ceremony.

Jishnu Deb Burman also took oath as deputy chief minister of Tripura.

The 49-year-old is the first BJP leader to become the chief minister of the state ending the 25-year-old rule of the Left Front government in the state in the recently-concluded assembly elections. While BJP won 35 seats, its alliance partner Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) managed to get eight seats, giving the NDA a 43-seat majority in the 60-member assembly.

Known for being an outspoken person, Deb enjoys good relations with senior leaders of all political parties in the state.

The chief minister elect also personally met former chief minister Manik Sarkar to invite him for the swearing-in ceremony on Friday.

“The ideological differences between Left and BJP is a reality but Biplab Deb is extremely respectful towards Manik Sarkar. Soon after winning the assembly elections on Saturday when Deb met Sarkar, he touched his feet for blessings," said a senior BJP leader based in Tripura, who did not want to be named.

Deb also asked Sarkar to guide him govern the state, saying his experience would help the BJP leader perform better.

However, members of the Left front have decided to boycott the ceremony.

Deb comes from a political background, as his father Haradhan Deb was a senior leader of Bharatiya Jan Sangh (BJS) in Tripura.

The state BJP chief was initiated in public life by his family when he joined the local unit of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in Tripura. But he was first noticed by the RSS and BJP leaders in the late 1990s when he came to Delhi for three years.

“Biplab Deb used to initially live at the BJP headquarters, Ashoka Road, when he reached Delhi. During his stay, he came in touch with veteran RSS-BJP leader K.N. Govindacharya who took him under his wings. Deb later stayed with Govindacharya for some time," the BJP leader added.

Senior leaders of BJP who are associated with RSS said when Deb was first identified by the party leadership, the state unit of BJP was a divided house and most leaders were fighting among themselves rather than the Left Front government in the state.

“BJP leadership in the 1990s used to be so worried about the party unit in Tripura that we used to wonder if the party would ever be able to become a cohesive unit in the state. As a result, BJP leaders decided to identify a new young leader who could be groomed for the big job. And Deb was handpicked and sent back to the state," the BJP leader said.

But the fortunes of Deb and BJP in Tripura changed three years ago when Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose RSS leader Sunil Deodhar to do the ground work for the party in Tripura. Deodhar along with Deb managed to win more than two-third seats in Tripura assembly. Deb was made Tripura’s Jan Sampark Pramukh for the BJP in 2015, and was declared BJP’s state president on 6 January 2016, replacing Sudhindra Dasgupta, the longest-serving chief of the party in Tripura.

In a bid to take on the 25-year-old term of the Left front, the BJP focussed their election campaign on parivartan (change). Keeping anti-incumbency in mind, the party slogan for this election was “Chalo Paltai" (Let’s change the government), which seems to have resonated with the people. Taking on a cadre-based party, the BJP also worked on their organisational set-up in the state from the ground up.

Apart from his public life, Deb is a fitness enthusiast and also tried his hand as a car dealer in Agartala in the past. His wife Niti is an officer at State Bank of India. The couple has a son and a daughter.

PTI contributed to the story

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