The BJP has not won a single election in the state since Sukanta Mazumdar was appointed as the party’s Bengal unit chief.
New Delhi: The Bengal unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party is in the midst of a storm that is brewing from within, following the party facing successive electoral debacle in the state.
The BJP lost all the by-elections that West Bengal witnessed since the party’s loss in the Assembly elections that concluded in the state in May last year, with the latest being the Asansol Lok Sabha bypolls and the Ballygunge Assembly bypolls, where the party’s vote share slipped from 40% in May last year to just over 10% this year.
The BJP also faced an electoral drubbing in the municipal elections held in over 104 municipalities across Bengal earlier this year, where the BJP was pushed to the number three position, with the Left gaining the number two position in terms of vote share in Bengal.
It is also pertinent to mention here that the BJP did not win a single election held in the state since Sukanta Mazumdar was appointed as the party’s Bengal unit president. The party’s vote share has also declined in the same period, from over 40% to just a little over 10% in Bengal.
Following these successive electoral defeats, several BJP leaders have started to speak against the state leadership of the party and have blamed their “unworthiness” and “lack of interest” for the party’s present state of affairs in Bengal today. BJP MLA and state Committee’s General Secretary Gouri Shankar Ghosh resigned from the party post along with three other office bearers of the party earlier this week, citing “organisational weakness” and the party’s state leadership’s “incapability” to deal with elections.
BJP’s national secretary and Bengal BJP leader Anupam Hazra also lashed out at the state leadership of the BJP, saying that the state leaders of the party have created such an environment within the party that old-timers and dedicated workers of the party were feeling cornered and have preferred to work for the Bharatiya Janata Party outside West Bengal.
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Hazra said, “There are scores of leaders in the Bengal BJP who have distanced themselves from the party, but they have not joined any other political party, we need to introspect on the reasons why. These people are dedicated workers of the party, loyal soldiers, they have been with the party at its difficult times, been arrested for being with the BJP, they have never asked anything from the party and if such people decide to distance themselves from the Bengal BJP or put in their resignation from the party, there is something seriously wrong with how the Bengal unit of the BJP is functioning.”
Hazra also raised questions about the state unit on giving importance to such leaders who had joined the party just before the elections and did not take time to dissociate themselves from the party soon after the party lost the Bengal elections.
Hazra further asked why certain leaders, including MPs who are dedicated loyal soldiers of the party, are being forced to keep themselves away from Bengal and work for the party in different states.
He also asked why is the state unit of the BJP creating such an environment for BJP leaders to dissociate them from the Bengal unit of the party.
Not only Hazra, even Bishnupur BJP MP, Saumitra Khan, attacked the state unit of the BJP, saying that the Bengal BJP “is suffering from a disease and is in dire need of medicine”.
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Khan said, “The state leadership of the BJP Bengal is a full house of immature leadership with the top bosses in Bengal having no organisational or political experience. The party is paying the price for this. There is a need to introspect and selective introspection is not the solution. We need to take everyone along and find a solution on how to win Bengal. The BJP in Bengal is in a crisis and it must be looked into.”
BJP’s Asansol bypoll Lok Sabha candidate and MLA, Agnimitra Paul also in a public meeting lashed out at the BJP leadership. She said that the BJP’s internal fight has led to her losing from the Asansol Lok Sabha seat. Sources close to Paul also said that she has written a letter to BJP’s national organisational secretary B.L. Santosh, apprising him of the issues Paul faced from within the BJP during her campaign in Asansol.
Agnimitra Paul lost to TMC’s Shatrughan Sinha in the recently concluded bypolls. It is also pertinent to mention here that, the TMC for the first time ever, since its inception in 1998, has won the Asansol seat. Not only them, even other senior leaders and MPs including Hooghly MP Locket Chatterjee, Bongaon MP Shantanu Thakur have raised their concerns against the state leadership of the party with the BJP’s national president J.P. Nadda and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Both Locket and Thakur had in the past been critical of the state leadership. After the BJP’s drubbing at the municipal polls in Bengal, Locket had asked the party to introspect, for which she had to face the ire of former state president Dilip Ghosh. Even Thakur had appealed to the Bengal unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party to take along everyone for the betterment of the party in the state.
Following this, Locket and Agnimitra Paul were not even invited for a meeting that was called by the state unit of the BJP earlier this week, despite them being general secretaries of the BJP’s Bengal state committee. Both Locket and Thakur had in separate occasions also met Nadda and Shah to inform them about the current crisis in the Bengal BJP. Even other BJP leadership like Ritesh Tiwari, and Sayantan Basu have also apprised them of the issues plaguing the Bengal unit of the BJP.
Issues plaguing Bengal BJP
Absolute control of the party by “select two-three people”, which sources in the Bengal BJP likes to call as the “rule of two-three people”, lack of democracy within the party and the incapability to have debate, discussion and dissent within the party are some of the reasons for the downfall of the BJP in Bengal, sources in the BJP said. Sources indicated that BJP’s Bengal organisational secretary Amitava Chakraborty and former State President and current National Vice President Dilip Ghosh are calling all the shots in Bengal BJP, which have led to discontentment among several leaders as “their rule” have taken away the freedom of speech and has almost established an “autocratic” rule within the BJP.
“Amitava Chakraborty is the biggest trouble maker who is creating all the controversies in Bengal. He does not think well for the party, he only thinks well for himself. He wants to run the party like a dictator as if his decision is the final decision and there is no place for debate and discussion or consultation within the party. No one likes him, he is trying to assert himself as the super boss and all political policy decisions are being taken by him without consulting anyone and of course with some influence of Dilip Ghosh. It is Chakraborty who has instructed to sideline leaders whom he thinks is a threat for him. His selfish demands and power assertion has led to the BJP slowly vanishing from Bengal. This is not how the party works. Everyone needs to be taken along,” a senior BJP functionary from Bengal told this correspondent.
Another BJP party functionary said that Sukanta Mazumdar was recommended by Dilip Ghosh and Ghosh wanted to appoint someone who could remain his puppet so that from behind the scenes he would still be able to hold the strings of the Bengal BJP.
“Ghosh was successful in his attempt, where he made someone like Sukanta, an in-experienced politician the party chief of a crucial state like Bengal. The entire state committee made by Sukanta had Amitava’s and Ghosh’s stamp. Bengal leaders wanted a re-energised BJP after Assembly election drubbing, but in return what they got was more powerful Amitava and an almost puppet BJP chief of Bengal who failed to contain dissent and lacked the ability to take every important leader along,” another BJP functionary from Bengal told this newspaper.
However, relations between Dilip Ghosh and Sukanta Mazumdar have also started to sour after the latter started to assert himself as an “independent minded president” of the party. Ghosh has also started to make public statements targeting Sukanta and now calling him as an “inexperienced” leader. Sources also indicated that if the BJP was not ready to mend its way in the coming months, the party could see many of its MPs and MLAs leaving the party and moving out for a “better future”.