Tripura rulers wanted to merge with Pakistan: Manik Sarkar

Agartala, Sep 19 (IANS) Members of Tripura's erstwhile royal family had tried to merge the state with the then East Pakistan and later tried to integrate the state with Assam, Chief Minister Manik Sarkar has revealed.

"Before partition of India, a section in the royal family tried to merge Tripura with the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh)," Sarkar said at a seminar here Wednesday evening.

"But, sensing the public sentiments, the last king of Tripura (Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur) before his death had expressed his desire to keep Tripura with the Indian union," the chief minister said.

The king who ruled from 1923, died in 1947, the year the sub-continent was partitioned.

Sarkar, a member of the Communist Party of India-Marxist politburo, said that later, a section of influential people and political leaders tried to merge Tripura with neighbouring Assam.

Historian and writer Pannalal Roy said: "The States Reorganisation Commission, constituted in 1953, proposed to merge Tripura with Assam."

However, after people began a struggle to keep Tripura as a full-fledged state of India, the central government dropped the merger plan, Sarkar said.

The seminar was organised on the occasion of the golden jubilee of the Tripura legislative assembly to highlight the transition in the state from princely rule to democratic governance.

Inaugurating the seminar, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar said parliament and state assemblies must run smoothly with high standards of debates to fulfill hopes and aspirations of the people.

She stressed the need of more women lawmakers in both parliament and state assemblies.

Chief Minister Sarkar further said the government must respect the sentiments, hopes and aspiration of the people.

"Ruling parties must not act on their numerical strength, they should go by the people's wishes."

"Now people are not concerned what is going on in parliament and state assemblies. This is because the standards of debates in both parliament and assemblies gone down," Sarkar said.

Ruling and opposition parties must cooperate and guide each other in the interest of democracy and development of people, he said.

"Opposition parties must not oppose all steps of government blindly. There must be a constructive and positive criticism of the government," Sarkar said in his half hour extempore speech.

Tripura's parliamentary affairs minister Tapan Chakraborty, assembly speaker Ramendra Chandra Debnath, deputy speaker Pabitra Kar and opposition Congress leader Sudip Roy Barman also spoke at the seminar.

A total of 140 former and sitting legislators were felicitated on the occasion.

At the end of several hundred years of being ruled by 184 kings, the princely state, along with Manipur, merged with the Indian Union in October 1949. It was then designated a union territory headed by a chief commissioner.

On July 1, 1963, the erstwhile Tripura territorial council was converted into the 30-seat Tripura legislative assembly by an act of parliament.

Congress leader Sachindra Lal Singh became the first chief minister, heading a five-member council of ministers.

Under the North Eastern Region (Reorganisation) Act, 1971, Tripura, Manipur and Meghalaya became full-fledged states Jan 21, 1972, each having a 60-seat assembly.

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