New Delhi: The 77-MLA BJP in West Bengal is imploding, with many top leaders leaving the MLAs, district presidents, and secretaries to fend for themselves post the 2 May Assembly election results.
The Sunday Guardian has learnt from multiple party leaders that a substantial number of the newly elected party MLAs and other district-level functionaries are in talks with leaders of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) to facilitate their entry into the TMC. The TMC, especially its de-facto number one, Abhishek Banerejee, according to these leaders, has shown a willingness to take these leaders into the party fold, especially those who are active on the ground, as this will further strengthen the TMC in view of the 2024 general elections.
The BJP leaders stated that they are forced to do this as all top leaders who were in the forefront of the campaign have gone “incommunicado” and switched off their mobile phones. The leaders, who are still “available”, are telling those who are calling them not to meet them as they’re “infected with Covid-19”. The same top leaders however “tested negative” for Covid-19 on 5 May when party president J.P. Nadda had reached Kolkata to protest the attack on BJP workers. All these top leaders, who were asked to join the protest organized by Nadda, rushed back home once Nadda left for Delhi, leaving the workers and functionaries who had reached Kolkata from across West Bengal in the hope of getting some directions from these top leaders on how to “fight” and “struggle”, high and dry.
Top leaders who are unreachable, as claimed by the local district leaders, include Arvind Menon, Dilip Ghosh, Amitava Chakraborty, with Kailash Vijayvargiya returning to his home in Indore. Another prominent leader, Mukul Roy is showing little interest in the party and workers’ interest as he is very upset over the electoral loss of his son, Shubhrangshu Roy.
There was a strong buzz in the political circles of West Bengal that Roy was likely to go back to TMC with at least 15 of the newly-elected MLAs. However, sources close to Roy termed this as a “rumour” spread by a few of his own BJP colleagues who were with him when he was in the TMC. Roy too tweeted on Saturday afternoon that he was not going anywhere.
The Sunday Guardian tried to contact Ghosh multiple times on Friday and Saturday but his number was switched off, with his close confidant stating that “maybe his phone is not charged”.
Former Governor and prominent West Bengal leader, Tathagata Roy on Thursday attacked senior leaders for the party’s loss in the state. Roy, in his tweet, stated, “Kailash-Dilip-Shiv-Arvind (KDSA) (referring to Kailash Vijayvargiya, Dilip Ghosh, Shivprakash and Arvind Menon) foursome have dragged the names of our respected Prime Minister and Home Minister through mud and have sullied the name of the biggest political party in the world.”
A district party general secretary, who called up a BJP MP who represents a tribal seat in South Bengal, seeking suggestions on how he should galvanize the demoralized cadre and save him and his family from the attacks from the ruling party, was told by the MP to “sit at home silently, leave politics and focus on his livelihood and the well-being of your family members”.
A national party functionary said that even the few minutes “dharna” done by party president Nadda to protest the attack on BJP workers could have been avoided as it “served no purpose”.
“The party president sat for a few minutes inside a room in the party office in Hastings, Kolkata. It generated no traction, no interest, no enthusiasm among the party workers who were outside Kolkata. Why would it? Did it serve any real purpose?”, he asked.
The party leader said it would have been much better if top BJP leaders, who have been provided with security by the Central forces, could have gone to the interiors of Bengal where the actual violence is taking place, instead of sitting inside closed rooms.