ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

BJP's Poor Show in West Bengal: Why Loyalists Are at Loggerheads With Leadership

Sukanta Majumdar's inclusion in Modi 3.0 indicates that there will be a change in West Bengal BJP leadership.

Published
Elections
5 min read
story-hero-img
i
Aa
Aa
Small
Aa
Medium
Aa
Large
Hindi Female

On 11 March, when the Lok Sabha 2024 election season had just kicked off, Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his campaign in West Bengal with the saffron party's 'Vijay Sankalp' rally at Arambagh in Hooghly district. He concluded his campaign, which ran for three months, with a mega roadshow in Kolkata on 29 May.

During this period, the prime minister addressed 22 public meetings and conducted one roadshow, his first ever in Kolkata.

However, the high-pitched campaign did not translate to seats in the state – of the 42 Lok Sabha seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won just 12 (down from 18 seats in 2019).

The saffron party also failed to retain five seats – Cooch Behar, Bankura, Medinipur, Barrackpore, and Jhargram – which the party won in 2019.

What the poor performance has led to is an internal crisis, with several state BJP leaders blaming its sub-par performance in the parliamentary polls in the state on "new, inexperienced leaders". Some are even hinting at a "conspiracy" behind the loss of seats where winning chances were high.

BJP's Poor Show in West Bengal: Why Loyalists Are at Loggerheads With Leadership

  1. 1. Who's to Blame?

    Former BJP Bengal president and senior leader Dilip Ghosh, who lost to former cricketer Kriti Azad from the Bardhaman-Durgapur Lok Sabha seat, is among the several loyalists who blamed the central leadership for "giving too much importance to the new entrants from the Trinamool Congress (TMC)."

    Ghosh is one of the many prominent leaders to lose their seat this time. Others include actor Locket Chatterjee and fashion designer Agnimitra Paul. Ghosh alleged to local media that "a conspiracy was hatched to ensure that I lost the elections."

    "Conspiracies and backbiting are nothing but a part of politics. I take them that way. Despite that, I worked hard enough but was not able to win. Those who decided to field me from Bardhaman-Durgapur will be able to explain. Many workers were not out in the field," Ghosh told The Quint.

    A former MP from the Medinipur constituency (which was considered a stronghold of the BJP), Ghosh was removed from his position as the BJP Bengal unit's president in 2021 after the party failed to win against the TMC in the Assembly elections. He was then moved from his Medinipur seat, which the TMC regained in the 2021 election, to Bardhaman-Durgapur, where he replaced outgoing MP SS Ahluwalia.

    The latter, in turn, was moved to his home turf of Asansol, where he lost to TMC's Shatrughan Sinha. The party's sitting MLA from Asansol Dakshin, Agnimitra Paul replaced Ghosh in Medinipur. All three BJP candidates were defeated by the TMC candidates in the recently concluded polls.

    Ghosh further told The Quint that the saffron party's growth in the state has stagnated since the 2021 Assembly elections when the party won 77 seats.

    "There has been no proper introspection within the BJP after the 2021 Assembly election drubbing. No one was held responsible for the loss. There has to be introspection now in order to avoid such a situation in 2026 when the state goes to polls again. Over the last five years, the party, instead of growing in West Bengal, has shrunk," he alleged.

    Political analyst Maidul Islam explained to The Quint,

    "There are said to be three lobbies in the Bengal BJP. One is led by Dilip Ghosh, the other by Sukanta Majumdar, and the third by Suvendu Adhikari (a former aide of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee). Among them, the Suvendu lobby is believed to be the strongest. A section of BJP workers is said to be disgruntled as leaders who have switched over from the TMC in recent years are being given more importance."

    "Adhikari's hold over the party, due to the trust that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have reposed on him, gave him the power to decide on 15 candidates out of the 42 that the party fielded in Bengal. All his suggestions were blindly accepted by the central leadership, which put the BJP in trouble this time. And this is now being questioned by many leaders in the party's state unit," he added.

    Apart from Ghosh, Soumitra Khan, who won the Bishnupur seat by a narrow margin, also criticised the state party leaders, terming them "incompetent."

    "When those without any proper political experience of fighting elections call the shots in the organisation, this is the result that you get. There has to be some sort of accountability from the state leaders who made all the decisions in this election," Khan told reporters.

    Expand
  2. 2. Who Will Be BJP Bengal President?

    On Sunday, 9 June, Sukanta Majumdar, the current president of the West Bengal BJP unit, was among those inducted into the Union Council of Ministers led by Prime Minister Modi.

    "I will take up whatever responsibility that the party gives me. As loyal soldiers of the party, we do not pick up which front we fight," he reportedly told the media.

    Majumdar's inclusion in the Modi 3.0 government indicates that there will be a change in West Bengal BJP leadership.

    Even as Adhikari is being blamed for the BJP's poll debacle in Bengal, the Leader of Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly could be the frontrunner for the post of the state BJP chief. Apart from him there are other frontrunners for the party president post, including former party president Dilip Ghosh, two-time Purulia MP Jyotirmoy Singh Mahato, and actor Locket Chatterjee.

    "While the party's performance this election has been dismal, Shuvendu has made the BJP victorious in both seats in his home turf of East Medinipur district (Contai and Tamluk). Therefore, a section of the party feels that Amit Shah-JP Nadda can choose him. On the other hand, despite losing the Bardhaman-Durgapur seat this time, the BJP did put up its best performance in the state under Dilip Ghosh's leadership. So, that also makes him a probable candidate," a senior BJP leader from North Bengal, who did not want to be named, told The Quint.

    The BJP leader further added, "Even though Mahato won, the Kurmi vote bank of the BJP in Bengal practically collapsed this election, and this is evident from the loss of seats like Jhargram, Bankura, and Medinipur, which have sizeable Kurmi population."

    At present Jyotirmoy, who is from the Kurmi community, one among the five general secretaries of the state BJP.

    "By appointing him as a president and giving the responsibility of state organisation, the BJP can send a 'message' to the Kurmi community. Also, Locket is one of the 'female faces' of the state BJP which makes her a top contender for the post," the BJP leader added.

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

Who's to Blame?

Former BJP Bengal president and senior leader Dilip Ghosh, who lost to former cricketer Kriti Azad from the Bardhaman-Durgapur Lok Sabha seat, is among the several loyalists who blamed the central leadership for "giving too much importance to the new entrants from the Trinamool Congress (TMC)."

Ghosh is one of the many prominent leaders to lose their seat this time. Others include actor Locket Chatterjee and fashion designer Agnimitra Paul. Ghosh alleged to local media that "a conspiracy was hatched to ensure that I lost the elections."

"Conspiracies and backbiting are nothing but a part of politics. I take them that way. Despite that, I worked hard enough but was not able to win. Those who decided to field me from Bardhaman-Durgapur will be able to explain. Many workers were not out in the field," Ghosh told The Quint.

A former MP from the Medinipur constituency (which was considered a stronghold of the BJP), Ghosh was removed from his position as the BJP Bengal unit's president in 2021 after the party failed to win against the TMC in the Assembly elections. He was then moved from his Medinipur seat, which the TMC regained in the 2021 election, to Bardhaman-Durgapur, where he replaced outgoing MP SS Ahluwalia.

The latter, in turn, was moved to his home turf of Asansol, where he lost to TMC's Shatrughan Sinha. The party's sitting MLA from Asansol Dakshin, Agnimitra Paul replaced Ghosh in Medinipur. All three BJP candidates were defeated by the TMC candidates in the recently concluded polls.

Ghosh further told The Quint that the saffron party's growth in the state has stagnated since the 2021 Assembly elections when the party won 77 seats.

"There has been no proper introspection within the BJP after the 2021 Assembly election drubbing. No one was held responsible for the loss. There has to be introspection now in order to avoid such a situation in 2026 when the state goes to polls again. Over the last five years, the party, instead of growing in West Bengal, has shrunk," he alleged.

Political analyst Maidul Islam explained to The Quint,

"There are said to be three lobbies in the Bengal BJP. One is led by Dilip Ghosh, the other by Sukanta Majumdar, and the third by Suvendu Adhikari (a former aide of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee). Among them, the Suvendu lobby is believed to be the strongest. A section of BJP workers is said to be disgruntled as leaders who have switched over from the TMC in recent years are being given more importance."

"Adhikari's hold over the party, due to the trust that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have reposed on him, gave him the power to decide on 15 candidates out of the 42 that the party fielded in Bengal. All his suggestions were blindly accepted by the central leadership, which put the BJP in trouble this time. And this is now being questioned by many leaders in the party's state unit," he added.

Apart from Ghosh, Soumitra Khan, who won the Bishnupur seat by a narrow margin, also criticised the state party leaders, terming them "incompetent."

"When those without any proper political experience of fighting elections call the shots in the organisation, this is the result that you get. There has to be some sort of accountability from the state leaders who made all the decisions in this election," Khan told reporters.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Who Will Be BJP Bengal President?

On Sunday, 9 June, Sukanta Majumdar, the current president of the West Bengal BJP unit, was among those inducted into the Union Council of Ministers led by Prime Minister Modi.

"I will take up whatever responsibility that the party gives me. As loyal soldiers of the party, we do not pick up which front we fight," he reportedly told the media.

Majumdar's inclusion in the Modi 3.0 government indicates that there will be a change in West Bengal BJP leadership.

Even as Adhikari is being blamed for the BJP's poll debacle in Bengal, the Leader of Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly could be the frontrunner for the post of the state BJP chief. Apart from him there are other frontrunners for the party president post, including former party president Dilip Ghosh, two-time Purulia MP Jyotirmoy Singh Mahato, and actor Locket Chatterjee.

"While the party's performance this election has been dismal, Shuvendu has made the BJP victorious in both seats in his home turf of East Medinipur district (Contai and Tamluk). Therefore, a section of the party feels that Amit Shah-JP Nadda can choose him. On the other hand, despite losing the Bardhaman-Durgapur seat this time, the BJP did put up its best performance in the state under Dilip Ghosh's leadership. So, that also makes him a probable candidate," a senior BJP leader from North Bengal, who did not want to be named, told The Quint.

The BJP leader further added, "Even though Mahato won, the Kurmi vote bank of the BJP in Bengal practically collapsed this election, and this is evident from the loss of seats like Jhargram, Bankura, and Medinipur, which have sizeable Kurmi population."

At present Jyotirmoy, who is from the Kurmi community, one among the five general secretaries of the state BJP.

"By appointing him as a president and giving the responsibility of state organisation, the BJP can send a 'message' to the Kurmi community. Also, Locket is one of the 'female faces' of the state BJP which makes her a top contender for the post," the BJP leader added.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

0

Read Latest News and Breaking News at The Quint, browse for more from elections

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Member Benefits
Read More
×
×