Is WB BJP Having an ‘Outsider’ Problem? Aap Chronology Samajhiye!
While the factionalism in the TMC is evident, it looks like the BJP is suffering from a similar problem.
For a flower to bloom, its roots must be strong enough to sustain.
Infighting and factionalism have become a common headline courtesy of the Trinamool Congress, as the elections are knocking on West Bengal’s door. It has been this very reason that has led to the departures of several leaders from the party to the Bharatiya Janata Party, with Suvendu Adhikary being the most prominent one.
And while the BJP has whole-heartedly welcomed these defectors into their ranks, these defectors and their followers seem to be causing a similar problem for the saffron party.
Turns out, factionalism is contagious.
A byproduct of this is that a number of clashes have taken place in several districts between the BJP’s “old guard” and the “new entrants”. While the state leadership has always resorted to blaming the Trinamool Congress for the clashes, BJP workers have alleged that it is a result of an internal feud.
However, it must also be said that while the state leadership has denied infighting, they are taking steps to keep the same in check. Recently BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said that those who want to join the BJP will have to take a clearance certificate from the district unit of the party. This comes as a complete U-turn from his earlier statement of welcoming anyone and everyone with arms wide open, despite RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat’s concern that the new entrants don’t share the same ideology.
The Sequence of Events
On December 19, 2020, Suvendu Adhikary and a host of other leaders including Sukra Munda and Biswajit Kundu join the BJP at Amit Shah’s rally in West Midnapore. Around the same time, posters asking for the “removal of newcomers” were seen in Gaighata, North 24 Parganas. The placards in Gaighata are believed to carry a message to the party leadership such as BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta and party’s Bengal spokesperson Shamik Bhattacharya.
“Which BJP are we?”
“Those who were branded as extortionists earlier are BJP’s assets today.”
“Remove corrupt zonal secretaries.”
The posters even came with courtesy of the “Original BJP” under them.
Meanwhile, Protests broke out among BJP workers in Bishnupur against the induction of former TMC minister and municipal chairman Syamaprasad Mukherjee.
On December 20, 2020, clashes at different places in Alipurduar against the induction of former TMC MP Dasharath Tirkey. In Alipurduar, BJP workers even burnt an effigy of Tirkey and at another place, his photo was garlanded with shoes.
While clashes broke out in Nagrakata in Jalpaiguri district against the induction of sitting TMC MLA Sukra Munda.
However, it was on December 21, 2020, that the clashes became evident when BJP supporters were seen violently fighting among each other during a party programme in Durgapur regarding who will sit on the podium with BJP state president Dilip Ghosh and Arjun Singh. Some of the supporters were slated to join the BJP at the rally.
Amit Yadav, ward president of the BJP claimed these people associated with the coal mafia are the very same people who attacked party workers during the 2017 corporation polls and even went to the extent of lodging false cases against BJP cadre. We oppose their joining the BJP, Yadav added.
On 8 January, two groups of BJP workers clashed in front of Dilip Ghosh, Suvendu Adhikari and Kailash Vijayvargiya at BJP’s Nandigram mega rally. The situation turned so serious that the leaders had to leave the podium in haste and brickbats were thrown at them.
BJP had to postpone their “joining festival” in Kalna after BJP supporters clashed with each other on 16 January, as a side effect of ex-TMC MLA Biswajit Kundu joining the party.
On 21 January, an internal fight took place between the new BJP entrants and the old guard in Asansol. However, the fight took place behind closed doors at the party office in front of Minister Babul Supriyo and national secretary Arvind Menon.
Alarm bells were sent ringing across the ranks of the saffron party after chaos erupted at Burdwan on 21 January after several BJP workers came from East Burdwan gathered in front of the party's Burdwan town office and started raising slogans against district chief Sandip Nandi and demanded his immediate removal. The newly inaugurated party office was not only vandalised but vehicles parked outside were set on fire. The state administration has issued show-cause notices to Nandi and 13 others for their alleged involvement.
The Common Denominator
What is common among all the aforementioned events is that all the clashes allegedly took place between the “old guard” of the BJP and the “new entrants” most of whom were previously TMC supporters.
The “old guard” claimed that the same TMC goons who harassed them previously are now in their party. They further alleged that the BJP in Bengal is becoming TMC’s B team as they are recruiting the same leaders who they previously accused of being corrupt.
BJP workers have said that not only are the “corrupt leaders” being recruited but they are also being given prominent positions while “those who have been with the party for years are being sidelined.”
Symptoms of a Bigger Problem?
The problem at the grass-root level is symptomatic of an alleged power tussle in the state’s leadership, which has been going on ever since ex-TMC leader Mukul Roy joined the BJP and played an instrumental role in its 2019 Lok Sabha campaign. It has always been the central leadership that has had to keep the state leadership in check.
A cold war between Ghosh and Roy had become an open secret which Home Minister Amit Shah had to interfere to control the situation, still sees some embers as Roy and Ghosh are hardly seen together at public events.
Notable instances also include BJYM president Saumitra Khan openly backing Ghosh for CM and later being rebuked by the Kailash Vijayvargiya at a party meeting. Khan had further said that “at least he’s not a turncoat”.
A similar incident was seen when Pandabeswar MLA Jitendra Tiwari was touted to join the BJP, BJP MP Babul Supriyo openly objected to the move. As more leaders defect, BJP’s problems will just increase. Recently there was an uproar within the party over the joining of five TMC leaders including Rajib Banerjee, who were flown to Delhi via a chartered flight.
Senior BJP leaders said that among those who joined, only one was capable of getting a ticket to contest the Assembly elections in 2021.
Meanwhile, Adhikary, with his own clout is slowly becoming another power centre, especially after Mamata Banerjee expressed her interest to contest from Nandigram, potentially flirting with a Mamata vs Suvendu battle. If that happens, then all eyes will be on that seat,
While the central leadership has so far been successful in not letting these differences blow out of proportion with their constant intervention, how long can they keep up the same?
(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.