For social media users, Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb has turned out to be the gift that keeps on giving. In the last two weeks, the Bharatiya Janata Party politician has made several seemingly arbitrary and bizarre statements, which have invited some criticism and a lot of humour.
It began on April 17, when the chief minister claimed that Internet existed during the Mahabharata era. He deduced this from the fact that in the ancient Indian epic, Sanjaya narrates the events of the Battle of Kurukshetra to the blind King Dhritarashtra even though the two of them are far away from the battlefield. This couldn’t have happened without sophisticated communication technology, Deb contended. He followed that up a week later by weighing in on decades-old beauty pageant results. The chief minister said he did not think Miss World 1997 Diana Hayden was worthy of the crown and that Aishwarya Rai, who won the title in 1999, was a better representation of Indian beauty. After many, including Hayden, criticised the remark, Deb said he regretted hurting anyone’s sentiments.
But a day later, the chief minister again became the target of jokes when he claimed that civil engineers, and not mechanical engineers, should opt for civil services. According to Twitter users, the chief minister made that connection only because the two professions have the word “civil” in common. Inspired by the remark, it was time to #SayItLikeBiplab. Not all of it was very civil.