Amit Shah raised the issue of differences while interacting with top state leaders.

 

New Delhi: Even before the Bihar elections were completed, the BJP’s focus had shifted to the West Bengal Assembly polls, as the party is finding it difficult to solve and contain the infighting among the top leaders of the state.

This infighting, in which the two key players are the state president Dilip Ghosh and the newly appointed national vice president Mukul Roy, has led to the creation of two camps, with each camp having prominent leaders, including MPs in it, who ever since the May 2019 Lok Sabha polls, are trying to weaken each other.

According to party leaders who are monitoring West Bengal, this continuing infighting is likely to impact the party’s electoral prospect as top leaders are more focused on ensuring that their competitors do not get an influential position in the party rather than how to exploit the perceived anti-incumbency against Mamata Banerjee-led government. This is also led to a “paralysis” among the lower and middle level leaders as they are not sure which side to choose and which not to, as a result of which the party’s work is getting affected on the ground.

Party leaders aware of the situation said that former party president and Home minister Amit Shah, who reached Kolkata on 5 November on a two-day visit even as the campaigning in Bihar was taking place, has raised the issue of differences among the state leaders very “strongly” while interacting with top state leaders from his suite in The Westin hotel. Shah further instructed all party leaders, including Mukul Roy and Dilip Ghosh, to forget who would become the CM face and rather focus on winning the election. The purpose of Shah going to the state rather than summoning the leaders to Delhi was to ensure that he gets a comprehensive feedback and ground reality from the different sections of the state leaders. Shah did not visit Bihar for campaigning even once despite being a “star campaigner”.

An influential section within the party, which wants to cut the political size of West Bengal co-incharge Arvind Menon who was appointed to the said post in October 2018, is also pressurizing the leadership to “shift” him to some other state.

Menon is credited with silently playing his role of reaching out to voters and erecting organisational structure in uncharted areas which bore result in the May 2019 polls. He was recently appointed by party president J.P. Nadda as the National Secretary.

Indore-based Kailash Vijayvargiya is the in-charge of the party in the state and most of the credit for the party’s good show in the Lok Sabha polls during which it won 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha, was attributed to him by the media.

According to party leaders in Delhi and Kolkata, the main issue between Roy, who had been sulking for the major part of the last one year before he was placated by giving him the new post, and Ghosh is regarding the Chief Minister’s chair.

“Both believe they should be made the CM face and eventually the CM if the party wins the election and that has led to a deep divide among them which is also impacting other leaders, including district presidents, who are being forced to choose sides. This is going to hurt the party if it is not taken care of soon. The party leadership in Delhi has to look at things from a broader view, which it is doing. Axe will fall on some individuals to ensure that the whole organisation does not fall down due to them,” a party leader said.