New Delhi: The BJP’s divided house in West Bengal is witnessing rapid movements of party leaders from one camp to the other, with “movers” trying to secure a berth in the camp they feel is going to be good for their political future.
While one camp is led by the newly appointed Leader of Opposition, Suvendu Adhikari, the other one is being herded by the old warhorse, Dilip Ghosh. All these developments are happening even as some BJP leaders are all set to join the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress on 21 July. BJP leader Mukul Roy joined his old party TMC on Friday, 11 June.
According to state leaders, Adhikari, if his recent travel movements, photos and statements are anything to go by, has become the blue-eyed boy of the three people who matter the most in the BJP’s scheme of things—Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and party president J.P. Nadda.
Earlier last week, Adhikari was summoned to Delhi by the top leadership. Adhikari spent considerable time with the three leaders in the national capital. Before that, when PM Modi was in West Bengal in the wake of the cyclone, it was Adhikari who was invited to be a part of the meeting where the PM met Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee; neither Dilip Ghosh nor Mukul Roy was asked to come.
While Adhikari was meeting Amit Shah and J.P. Nadda in Delhi on Tuesday, Ghosh was holding an election review meeting in Kolkata. The meeting by Ghosh was called “at a short notice”, a party leader told The Sunday Guardian, even as Ghosh, while responding to media queries, said that he came to know about Adhikari’s Delhi visit from the media. “The state president does not know that the Leader of Opposition from his own party has been called to Delhi to meet the top leadership. What does this indicate?” the leader quoted above asked.
The meeting called by Ghosh did not see any attendance from leaders such as Mukul Roy, Saumitra Khan, Sabyasachi Dutta and Rajib Banerjee, all considered heavyweights in their respective areas. The meeting, called at the party office at Hastings, was attended by Locket Chatterjee, Sayantan Basu, Agnimitra Paul and Amitava Chakraborty, all believed to be close to Ghosh.
Adhikari, party leaders said, was getting the support of multiple MPs, including Saumitra Khan, Arjun Singh, Nisith Pramanik, apart from a few others who were supporting him from the background. “Adhikari also has the support of around 7-8 MLAs who owe their win to him,” said a party leader, who is yet to decide where his allegiance is.
Hours after Adhikari landed in Delhi and met the top leaders of the BJP, party MPs including Saumitra Khan, Arjun Singh and Nisith Paramanik too arrived in Delhi and had a long meeting with him. Many BJP leaders who are in the anti-Ghosh camp have pinned the blame of the party’s loss on him, even as the other main players of the BJP’s election campaign like Kailash Vijayvargiya, Shiv Prakash and Arvind Menon have quietly withdrawn from the state after the party could win 77 of the 200-plus seats that they had claimed they would win.
Mid-level leaders, including MLAs, who are not a part of the Ghosh camp, are boycotting his meetings. Multiple district presidents told The Sunday Guardian that they would not attend meetings called by Dilip Ghosh, a tactic which is being used to force the central leadership to replace him.
“All these things indicate that Ghosh is going to be replaced soon. He has been at the helm since December 2015. Young faces of the party want him to be changed, he has had his run,” a party leader commented on being asked about the developments taking place in the party.