Following the TMC coming to power in 2011, it too had taken over CPM’s offices and civic bodies.
In a clear sign of the rise of BJP in West Bengal, the party has started taking over several Trinamool Congress (TMC) offices in many parts of the state. The BJP has so far taken over more than 100 TMC party offices in the state, while four civic bodies have already switched allegiance from the TMC to the BJP. This happened when TMC workers in these offices switched to the BJP overnight and replaced TMC flags with those of the BJP. Already, three TMC MLAs, including Mukul Roy’s son Subhrangshu Roy and 50 councillors from four municipalities—Bhatapara, Halisahar, Naihati, Kanchrapara—joined BJP last Tuesday. On Saturday, 17 councillors of the Darjeeling municipality also joined the BJP. Altogether, there are five municipalities that have been “taken over” by BJP. All this has led to violence between the BJP and TMC in many parts of the state.
It may be mentioned that following the TMC’s coming to power in 2011, the party had similarly “taken over” CPI(M) offices and civic bodies.
Since the Lok Sabha results were declared, violence has been witnessed over the “taking over” of party offices in various districts and this has led to political murder in various districts too. While the TMC claimed that not a single BJP leader was killed by them, their (TMC) leaders have been killed by the BJP, However, BJP claimed that after the polls around 50 political workers were killed as a result of clashes between the two parties.
At Khejuri in East Midnapore, TMC workers alleged that BJP workers had ransacked their party offices and even vandalised the car of a local TMC leader Ranjot Mullick. At Gangarampur in South Dinajpur, violence is still on over BJP leaders “taking over” TMC party office. Violence regarding “taking over” of party office from TMC was also reported from Arambagh in Hooghly and from South 24 Parganas too.
The victory rallies taken out by BJP in the last 15 days have also resulted in clashes between the BJP and TMC at Keshpur in West Midnapore, Ghatal in West Midnapore, Bankura, South 24 Parganas and North 24 Parganas districts. After this Mamata Banerjee issued the diktat that victory rallies could not be taken out.
On Friday, she claimed: “I have received reports from police that in the name of victory rallies, BJP is trying to create a riot-like situation and I have ordered the police to stop such rallies immediately.”
Soon after the results of Lok Sabha polls, BJP took control of the Bhatpara municipality, with the majority of TMC councillors joining BJP. The BJP bagged 26 votes in 34 wards of the Bhatpara municipality. Although the tenure of the municipality is ending in 2020, BJP wrested majority of the wards. This resulted in clashes breaking out between BJP and TMC workers.
Arjun Singh, who joined BJP from TMC, was a four-time MLA and also the chairman of the Bhatpara municipality. Now MP from Barrackpur, he wrested control of the Bhatpara municipality.
TMC alleged that in Coochbehar, its party offices at Bakshirhat, Mahishkuchi, Rampur, Shalbari were vandalised by BJP activists and its office in the Sitalkuchi was also ransacked.
Abed Ali Miya, block president of TMC at Sitalkuchi, Coochbehar, said: “After the Lok Sabha results were declared, BJP is taking control of all our party offices. Although we are recapturing our lost party offices, still there are some party offices which they have vandalised and started their party work in those offices. We have complained to the local police and they are helping us in getting back our offices.”
Last Saturday, at Kanchrapara in North 24 Parganas, things turned bizarre when BJP workers tried to “take over” TMC offices. During the incident two senior TMC leaders—Tapas Roy and Jyotipriyo Mullick—were allegedly heckled by BJP supporters.
Jyotipriyo Mullick, TMC leader and minister in-charge of state food supplies department, said: “On my visit to Kanchrapara on Saturday I urged the locals to help us get back our party offices. They have witnessed the entire incident and also seen BJP trying to create anarchy in the state by grabbing our party offices. It’s barbaric. Law will take its own course and we will protest against such atrocities by BJP workers and leaders.”
The BJP, on the other hand, alleged that its workers were attacked by TMC activists in the district’s Bakshirkuti area during a victory procession.
Dilip Ghosh, state BJP president, said: “TMC is now scared of BJP leadership after the results of the Lok Sabha elections and so they are accusing us of grabbing their party offices. The TMC workers are fed up with the party and they are consciously joining BJP and putting up BJP flags in TMC party offices. As a result, TMC leaders are aggrieved and they are trying to put the blame on us.”
The BJP says that the switching of loyalties by TMC offices is the “trailer of the big picture” that is going to unfold soon.
Kailash Vijayvargiya, BJP general secretary in charge of Bengal, said: “At least 40 TMC MLAs are ready to join BJP. We are assessing their credentials and then we will induct them in the party. We have launched a full-fledged effort to capture all civic bodies in Bengal as already 80% councillors do not want to stay in TMC and want to shift their allegiance.”
Political analysts say that Mukul Roy, who was once a close aide of Mamata Banerjee and later shifted allegiance to BJP, has been successfully poaching TMC leaders to BJP. This has led to an erosion of the TMC, which is now desperately looking at ways to connect with the masses.
According to Maidul Islam, a senior political analyst working at Centre for Studies, Kolkata: “After the victory in the Lok Sabha polls, BJP is set to maximise their seat share in the Assembly elections, for which they are leaving no stones unturned. The TMC is also trying to strengthen its organisation and trying to build strategies on how they can garner support from those areas which have been won by BJP. IThe TMC has already decided to organise rally for public relations (Janasangjog Jatra) from 21 June to 18 July. Sensing that the TMC is losing foothold, on 14 June, Mamata Banerjee has decided to visit Bijpur in North 24 Parganas from where most of her municipal councillors have shifted to BJP. In a desperate attempt, the TMC has signed an agreement with political strategist Prashant Kishor to prepare its campaign guidelines for the state elections.”