What next for BJP in West Bengal - Hindustan Times
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What next for BJP in West Bengal

Jun 16, 2024 09:49 AM IST

A section of the party leaders started speaking out against how the elections were managed and indirectly blaming Suvendu Adhikari for his role in the defeat

It is less than two weeks since the results of the recently held Lok Sabha elections have been announced in which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered an electoral blow in West Bengal.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered an electoral blow in West Bengal PREMIUM
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered an electoral blow in West Bengal

In the eastern state, where the BJP had forecast maximum success, the party could wrest only 12 out of the 42 seats. The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) won 29 seats. The BJP had set a target to win 35 seats.

Just days after the results were declared, fissures within the party came out in the open. A section of the party leaders started speaking out against how the elections were managed and indirectly blaming the Leader of Opposition in the state Suvendu Adhikari for his role in the defeat.

While two-time MP Saumitra Khan, who won from Bishnupur Lok Sabha seat, alleged that some BJP leaders had entered into secret pacts with the TMC, Dilip Ghosh former president of the BJP’s state unit hinted at conspiracy and backstabbing by a rival faction of the party behind his defeat.

“Several BJP leaders had made secret pacts with TMC leaders. Else you can’t get this result. The secret understanding (between TMC and BJP leaders) were at the local level, district level, and at the state level. Without this such a result can’t be explained,” Khan told reporters on June 5.

Ghosh, who was shifted out of his own constituency Midnapore and fielded from Burdwan – Durgpur, lost to cricketer-turned-politician Kirti Azad.

“We all strive to win a seat in which we have earlier lost. This time it seems planning was on to lose a winning seat. Those who took the decision to field me from Burdwan Durgapur would have to answer,” Ghosh told the media.

A BJP leader, who did not wish to be named, said that the attacks were meant for Adhikari, BJP legislator and leader of the opposition in the legislative assembly.

Earlier with the TMC, he moved to the BJP just ahead of the 2021 assembly elections and defeated TMC chief Mamata Banerjee from Nandigram. Since then, Adhikari has gained in popularity within the BJP. The LS results, however, have revealed intra-party detractors too.

“I don’t interfere with the party’s selection of candidates and campaigning strategy. I am a member of the state core committee. I speak only if I need to or asked to say anything,” Adhikari told reporters earlier in the week.

Even as differences among the BJP’s state leaders have come out in the open, the workers are allegedly facing the heat on the ground. BJP leaders have alleged that TMC has resorted to post-poll violence in many districts.

In 2021 too large-scale post-poll violence had erupted across the state following which the Calcutta high court had ordered the CBI to probe into the allegations. Allegations had also surfaced that BJP leaders were not to be seen in the villages when the violence broke out.

This time, however, BJP leaders are seemingly more active. Adhikari has moved the Calcutta high court with a PIL related to post-poll violence and last week attempted to meet West Bengal Governor CV Ananda Bose with a group of alleged post poll victims.

With many of the leaders and party veterans defeated, predictions of winning more than 30 seats in the state falling flat and post-poll clashes breaking out, it had apparently hit the morale of the party workers and given a chance to the rival parties to question the credibility of BJP’s top leaders who made the prediction of wining more than 400 seats.

“Modi has broken many parties and now the people have broken his morale. Modi should resign on moral grounds,” TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee told reporters after the announcement of results on June 4.

In some panchayats in the state, BJP members shifted to the TMC after the former’s poll debacle. At Bhetaguri in Cooch Behar, a group of BJP members joined the TMC. Reports of BJP panchayat level leaders joining the TMC after the results also poured in from Sitalkuchi and Mathabhanga.

“As of today, the numbers in the Lok Sabha are BJP: 240 INDIA: 237. 3 BJP MPs in West Bengal are in touch with us & there will be a nice surprise soon. After that, BJP: 240 INDIA: 240 Modi’s creaky coalition is a temporary structure which isn’t going to last very long,” Saket Gokhale, TMC Rajya Sabha member wrote on X on June 11.

Meanwhile, Khan in a recent media interview also said that TMC leaders had called him after the results and that he was maintaining friendly relation with them.

“All BJP leaders are on the ground and highly active. There is no question of anyone’s morale being down. We know how to protect our workers and we are doing it. Our seats may have gone down because of arithmetic but our vote share has increased. What credibility is left of the TMC? The chief minister lost in Nandigram in 2021 and alleged that she lost due to power cut. This time they have lost from Nandigram assembly seat again,” Adhikari had told HT earlier.

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