Saturday 28 May 2022
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Bengal by-election losses lead to infighting in BJP

Unable to point a finger at the prime minister and home minister, who never showed the spine people eager for a change were looking for, Bengal BJP leaders are cursing one another

Internal feud in West Bengal BJP has begun as its losing streak in West Bengal since the assembly election of 2021 continued last week as the party lost even the Hindi speaker-dominated Asansol seat to Trinamool Congress, what to talk of the Muslim-dominated Ballygunge assembly constituency, the result of which was a foregone conclusion. The BJP candidate in Asansol lost her deposit in the Ballygunge assembly constituency where the CPI(M) secured the second position.

Soon after the by-election results were out, BJP MP Saumitra Khan, who cannot dare speak against the leadership of the party in Delhi, trained his guns at the party’s leadership for the latest electoral debacle.

Asansol as well as Ballygunge had been won by former BJP leaders who are now with the Trinamool Congress (Trinamool Congress) — actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha and singer-turned-politician Babul Supriyo. While Ballygunge is a known Trinamool Congress bastion due to the Muslim factor, the Asansol seat went to the party ruling the for the first time since independence.

In the CPM era, Asansol used to vote for the INC. It was in control of the Left under the Trinamool Congress rule until BJP’s Babul Supriyo wrested it in 2014 and retained it in 2019.

Supriyo, who joined the Trinamool Congress last year after being dropped from Narendra Modi’s council of ministers, won from Ballygunge while the BJP’s Keya Ghosh forfeited her election deposit. The polls were held because West Bengal minister Subrata Mukherjee, who held the seat, had died in November.

Sinha was a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. Sinha won Asansol by more than three lakh votes, defeating his nearest rival, local BJP legislator Agnimitra Paul.

Senior BJP leaders said the central leadership had summoned general secretary (organisation), Amitava Chakraborty, to Delhi next week. Curiously, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah looked the other way while their cadres were being butchered in West Bengal, they are now “unhappy” with the by-poll results, especially the loss of the Asansol seat, which has reduced the party’s tally in Bengal from 18 to 17.

Causing embarrassment for the leadership, vice-president and member Saumitra Khan, who was earlier with the Trinamool Congress, said, “The inexperienced leaders we currently have in West Bengal are responsible for the poor show. There is much to learn from the Trinamool Congress.”

Amitava Chakravorty has not commented yet while dDistrict leaders are voicing their resentment too.Gauri Shankar Ghosh, a legislator from District Murshidabad, resigned from the post of general secretary on 16 April, accusing the party of putting inefficient people in leadership roles.

“I am not leaving the BJP. I am stepping down as general secretary because my decisions are of no consequence,” Ghosh said.

In District Nadia, 10 leaders stepped down two days ago when the bypoll results arrived, citing similar reasons.

“We will talk to those who have stepped down and discuss their grievances,” said BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar who was targeted by critics after massive organisational changes were made in December 2021.

Describing Khan’s criticism as his personal opinion, Majumdar said: “He should remember that the observer for these by-polls was and the co-observer was Arjun Singh.”

Both Adhikari and Singh were senior Trinamool Congress leaders before they switched sides like Khan.

In February, the BJP’s defeat in the civic polls at four of Bengal’s biggest constituencies, Salt Lake, Asansol, Chandannagar and Siliguri, triggered the discontent, never mind that the state leadership alleged that Trinamool Congress won 198 of the 226 seats in the four municipal corporations by resorting to electoral malpractice. The BJP could win only 12 seats while the Left Front won seven and five went to the INC and four to independent candidates.

These defeats came barely two months after the Trinamool Congress won the Kolkata Municipal Corporation polls with an absolute majority.

Jay Prakash Majumdar and Ritesh Tiwari, the two former state presidents who were suspended in January for speaking against the leadership, raised the heat in February and said Bengal BJP was paying the price for sidelining old-timers and experienced leaders.

Bashir Alam, vice-president of the state minority morcha (cell), resigned from the party and Majumdar joined the Trinamool Congress.

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