Biplab Kumar Deb, the BJP Chief Minister of Tripura state in northeast India, is building a reputation for bizarre comments. These include claims that the internet and satellite communication existed in India thousands of years ago.
Linking episodes from the epic poem Mahabharata, he has claimed that these myths were proof that the internet, and satellite communication “existed” in India in ages past.
Last week, Deb – a former gym instructor who was catapulted to the post of chief minister – earned international coverage for his claims that the internet existed during the time of the Mahabharata, one of the two Sanskrit epics (along with the Ramayana).
In a comment that might have bemused inventors of the internet, he said: “Even the European countries can claim that they have invented the technology but in reality, the technology was ours.”
On the occasion of Buddha Purnima (birth of the Buddha), PTI reported that the chief minister said the Buddha walked across India and went to countries like Japan, Myanmar and Tibet to spread the message of peace and harmony. But, while Buddhism did spread to these parts of the world eventually, it is not known if he ‘walked’ or even visited these countries in his lifetime.
Deb is a volunteer with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological flank of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. After taking over the reins to govern Tripura, ironically the state with the highest literacy rate in India (94.6%), he also “exposed” the beauty pageant industry.
On Thursday, he said the “international marketing mafia” was the reason that Indians no longer win such pageants and that international businessmen had taken “undue advantage” of Indians winning beauty pageants to market their products in the country. He also questioned the crowning of Diana Hayden as Miss World in 1997, saying she was “not an Indian beauty like Aishwarya Rai”.
‘Rear a cow’
However, in recent remarks, Deb addressed the situation of joblessness in the country and gave solutions different to those of his colleagues. Deb suggested that people should aim to be self-employed by setting up paan shops (which sell betel leaf) or rearing cows instead of going after government jobs.
“The youths here run after political parties for several years to get a government job and waste the vital time of their life; had the same youths instead of running after parties set up a paan shop they would have a bank balance of 500,000 rupees by now,” Deb said.
He also said: “There should be a cow in every house. Why run after .. government jobs? Milk is being sold at 50 rupees per litre. Graduates should get cows and milk them to earn 10 lakh [a million rupees] in 10 years. Instead of running after political parties.”
Earlier, Deb noted the importance of being an all-rounder when talking about civil service examinations. “Those who are from a mechanical engineering background should not opt for civil services. Society has to be built up. Civil engineers have this knowledge… Because those in the administration have to build society,” he said at an event.
Civil service officers should be all-rounders, he said, as “people who are expert in all disciplines have the highest demand”. He backed this by citing examples of cricket players Sachin Tendulkar and Kapil Dev.
“People take names of special players such as Sachin Tendulkar and Kapil Dev. Dev’s bowling was good, but [his] batting was also excellent. This is the age of speciality. All-rounders are accorded highest priority.”
The young quote-a-day chief minister is becoming an embarrassment for the BJP.
But, in the last month or so, his bizarre remarks have had one positive effect – putting his forgotten northeastern state back on the media’s map.