Veteran Tripura Communist leader dead


Agartala : Bidya Debbarma, one of the father figures of the Communist movement in Tripura, died here Friday, his family said. He was 95.

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Debbarma, an iconic figure among over one million tribals in Tripura, had never lost any election and was elected to the state assembly six times till 1993.

He is survived by his two daughters and a son, a family source said. His wife died many years back.

A former Tripura minister, Debbarma was not keeping well for the past few years due to old age-related ailments.

“Since the middle of last century till now, Bidya Debbarma was strongly and aggressively involved in all the mass movements in the northeastern state,” said Chief Minister Manik Sarkar in a condolence message.

Sarkar, also a Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) politburo member, said: “Debbarma would be remembered in the past, present and future political history of Tripura. He was a leading soldier against the royal dynasty and a warrior to establish peace and ethnic harmony in the mixed-populated state.”

Debbarma started his political career in 1950 with the undivided Communist Party of India (CPI) and later switched over to the breakaway CPI-M in 1964.

He was one of the founding members of the Janashiksha Movement (mass literacy struggle) in 1945.

He was also the founding leader of Tripura Rajya Upajati Ganamukti Parishad, a frontal tribal organization of the CPI-M.

The nonagenarian tribal leader along with former chief ministers Nripen Chakraborty and Dasaratha Deb played a prominent role in establishing the Left base in Tripura.

Debbarma, a maverick and who led a spartan life, was jailed for about a decade and remained underground for 13 years. He was in prison during the India-China war in 1962 and during Emergency in 1975.

The cremation was held Friday afternoon at his ancestral home at Asharambari in western Tripura.

Tripura Governor D.Y. Patil, Chief Minister Manik Sarkar and a large number of party leaders have condoled the death.