Leader of Opposition in the Assembly of West Bengal Suvendu Adhikari has been given the charge of his party BJP’s Barrackpore unit as Arjun Singh, the MP from the constituency, left the party and returned to the Trinamool Congress yesterday. The decision was taken at a meeting of the BJP’s top leadership today.
BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar was present at the meeting, accompanied by Amit Malviya, the BJP observer in West Bengal and head of the BJP’s cyber cell, and other leaders. Dilip Ghosh joined the meeting virtually. The decision with the consent of all present.
According to BJP sources, a meeting of the organisation will be held on 25 May in Barrackpore led by Suvendu Adhikari. He will probably take on new responsibilities after that.
Arjun Singh left the BJP yesterday and joined the Trinamool Congress after giving strong indications to the central leadership of his previous party that its apathy towards West Bengal was unacceptable. Following his quitting, the top leadership of the West Bengal unit of the BJP sat in a meeting at a hotel in Rajarhat, Kolkata, today. At the meeting, it was decided that the leader of the opposition in the state and MLA of Nandigram, Suvendu, would be given the responsibility of party affairs in the constituency that was until yesterday managed by Arjun Singh.
Meanwhile, BJP vice-president from the state Dilip Ghosh decided to leave for Delhi the day after the Barrackpore MP’s return ‘home’ to discuss Arjun Singh’s constituency and national security arrangements in West Bengal. This was why he could not physically attend the meeting in Kolkata but had to join virtually.
Following Babul Supriyo’s defection, Mukul Roy’s return to the Trinamool Congress and Arjun Singh’s move, Ghosh today admitted that many more could leave the party before the next Lok Sabha election. However, BJP Ghosh’s explanation that Singh left the party “under administrative pressure” gives credence to Trinamool Congress’s grouse that Adhikari had left them to join the BJP for a similar reason, say Bengal observers. Ghosh said after Singh quit, “In fact, Arjun Singh has left under pressure. Several of his businesses have been shut down. It might not have been possible for him to fight anymore. Unable to bear the administrative pressure, he surrendered. Under pressure, he went to the Trinamool Congress; he was compelled (by circumstances).”
Singh’s quitting has also led to infighting in West Bengal BJP. There is a big faction that believes Majumdar, Adhikari and Malviya are creating a situation that would make many other leaders and workers leave the party before the 2024 Lok Sabha election, as the recruits from the Trinamool Congress who had not come to the BJP with the intention of going back are being targeted too by the trio.
Extremely frustrated BJP workers have begun to crack down on suspected defectors, local journalists told Sirf News who also said the party’s credibility in the state has touched the nadir due to the central leadership’s abdication of responsibility towards its Bengal cadre. Babul Supriya and Jayaprakash Majumdar had, in fact, left the party after slamming the ‘incompetence’ of the state-level leaders. The most vocal critics of the ‘mishandling’ by the trio are Ritesh Tiwari, Sayantan Basu, Raju Banerjee Anupam Hazra and Saumitra Khan.
The local activists of the BJP are seeing the central leadership as clueless because, during his last tour of Bengal, Amit Shah said Majumdar and Adhikari would lead the Bengal unit of the party to turn its fortunes around. Then, a few days ago, at a secret meeting, Adhikari begged of Singh to stay in the BJP, but Singh did not pay heed to the LoP’s pleas.
Now BJP president JP Nadda will have a virtual meeting with the party’s MLAs and MPs from the state on 25 May while the party is gradually disintegrating with rebellions in several districts that have seen BJP cadre massacred at will allegedly in the hands of Trinamool Congress’s hitmen.