New Delhi: The BJP so far has declared its list of 283 candidates for the upcoming West Bengal elections, out of which at least 32 prominent TMC defectors have been fielded by the BJP to contest the elections from Bengal on the party’s ticket.

All these 32 candidates have switched sides from the TMC to the BJP over the last three years, of which a majority of them have jumped to the BJP over the last six months. The names of the prominent TMC defectors who have been fielded by the BJP this time around to contest the West Bengal elections includes: 1. Anupam Ghosh, former president of TMC’s youth wing from Howrah Sadar; 2. Mukul Roy, former railway minister and close aide of Mamata Banerjee; 3. Sabyasachi Dutta, former TMC MLA and Mayor of Bidhanagar Municipality; 4. Rudranil Ghosh, actor and member of TMC. He had joined BJP in December 2020. He will be contesting from the prestigious seat of Bhawanipur which is currently represented by Mamata Banerjee; 5. Col Deptangshu Chaudhury, former TMC leader and close aide of Suvendu Adhikari; 6. Jitendra Tiwari, former TMC MLA from Pandeveswar. He had joined the BJP just a couple of weeks back. 7. Pawan Singh, former TMC MLA and also the son of BJP MP Arjun Singh; 8. Sunil Singh, former TMC MLA, and brother of Arjun Singh; 9. Shilbhadra Dutta, former TMC MLA from Barrackpore; 10. Arindam Bhattacharya, former TMC MLA. He had joined BJP in January this year; 11. Shubrangshu Roy, TMC MLA from Bijpur and son of senior BJP leader Mukul Roy; 12. Rajib Banerjee, former TMC MLA and minister; 13. Baishali Dalmiya, former TMC MLA from Bally; 14. Actress Rajashri Rajbanshi, TMC sympathiser and who joined BJP just two weeks back.

She was handed a BJP ticket from Madhyamgram; 15.Saikat Panja, former TMC MLA from Monteswar; 16.Biswajit Kundu, former TMC MLA from Kalna. He is allegedly involved in the TET corruption case; 17.Shahin Akhtar, expelled TMC leader, he has been given ticket by the BJP from Chopra; 18. Rabindranath Bhattacharya, former TMC MLA from Singur. He was denied a TMC ticket this time around from the area owing to alleged reports of anti-incumbency against him. He was, however, given a ticket from the BJP to contest from the same Singur constituency; 19. Ghulam Sarwar, TMC leader and brother of TMC Minister, has been given BJP ticket from Goalpokhar; 20. Satyendranath Roy, former TMC MLA from Gangarampur, given BJP ticket from same constituency; 21. Krishna Kumar Kalyani, former TMC District President from Uttar Dinajpur; 22. Gauri Shankar Dutta, former TMC MLA but was denied ticket by TMC this time; 23. Dipak Haldar, former TMC MLA; 24. Prabir Ghoshal, former TMC MLA from Uttarpara; 25. Suvendu Adhikari. Former TMC MLA and Minister in Mamata Banerjee government; 26. Mihir Goswami, former TMC MLA; 27. Rathin Chakraborty, TMC Mayor from Shibpur, he has been handed with a BJP ticket from Shibpur Vidhan Sabha constituency; 28. Parthasarathy Chattopadhyay, former TMC MLA, given a BJP ticket from Ranaghat uttar Paschim constituency; 29. Debobrata Biswas, former TMC leader, given BJP ticket from Saptagram, just after a week of joining the party; 30. Gourchandra Mondal, former TMC Sabhadhipati of Malda, given BJP ticket from Manikchak; 31. Goutam Roy, former senior TMC leader from Kandhi, given BJP ticket from Kandhi constituency; and 32. Hiran Chatterjee, actor and former TMC youth wing general secretary.

Apart from these, several other small TMC leaders, newcomers and leaders from CPM and Congress who had joined the BJP in the last couple of months have been given tickets by the BJP to contest the Assembly elections in the state.

Political observers and journalists from West Bengal say that at least 100 odd defectors who have joined the BJP in the last few months have been given BJP tickets, ignoring a large number of old guard BJP workers who have been working for the party for years.

Soon after the names of the candidates were announced by the BJP on Thursday, a major outburst by BJP workers were witnessed across many districts in Bengal. Jalpaiguri, parts of Dinhata, Coochbehar, Ranaghat, Uttar Dinajpur, Dum Dum, Malda, Durgapur, Pandaveswar, Raniganj, among others, witnessed major protests by BJP workers. At many places, BJP workers ransacked their own party offices, locked down their district leaders, burnt effigies of their leaders, tore down posters and many have pledged not to work for the party any more.

Many party workers have also questioned the basis on which tickets were distributed for the party. Some have even accused the senior leaders of the party of taking money in the form of bribes to handout tickets to candidates who have either recently joined the party or are airlifted candidates.

“Why would a BJP worker accept someone as Jitendra Tiwari or Arindam Chowdhury as their candidate? They are the same people who had just months ago beaten up BJP workers and even got BJP workers killed. Some candidates who got rejected by the TMC this time due to massive anti-incumbency against them have also been given tickets by BJP. What is going on? Who has decided these names? The meetings they held with district leaders seem to hold no value. There are district leaders who are saying that they have never even heard of the name of the candidates who are nominated by the party from their area,” a senior BJP leader from Bengal told this correspondent.

The leader also added that the BJP leadership has become totally insensitive about this. He also alleged that the BJP has become the new TMC now, with all the corrupt and thrown away leaders, while the TMC is now a fresh party. If this is how they want to win elections, so be it.

Bengal BJP’s Chief Spokesperson told The Sunday Guardian, “Giving tickets to TMC defectors and members from the other party who have joined the BJP is a part of BJP’s strategy to win West Bengal. In Bengal, people don’t vote for the individual, but for the symbol and our primary concern is to defeat the TMC in Bengal and for that, we need to weaken the opposition and that is a part of our strategy. Moreover, these candidates have also the winability factor attached to them. Tickets are given after due deliberations.”