Adhikari meets Shah, Nadda over Bengal violence; TMC turncoats trouble state BJP
A day after Abhishek Banerjee, the new national general secretary of Trinamool Congress (TMC), said that many Bharatiya Janata Party (TMC) leaders in Bengal, including some who won the recent assembly polls, were eager to join the ruling party, TMC turncoats caused concern for the saffron camp even as it raised voice against post-poll violence, HT has learnt.
“People will not accept the constant threats of Delhi and imposition of Article 356 being posed to a government that has come to power with an overwhelming mandate. We should rise above politics and stand by people affected by the Covid pandemic and Cyclone Yaas,” former state minister Banerjee wrote on his social media page after skipping a crucial meeting of state office bearers called by state president Dilip Ghosh on Tuesday afternoon.
Rajib Banerjee joined the BJP at the Delhi residence of Union home minister Amit Shah before the assembly polls.
At the meeting, Ghosh, who recently faced agitation by local leaders in two districts, formed a three-member committee to control dissidence in the ranks and monitor anti-BJP social media posts by party leaders.
Rajib Banerjee’s post appeared hours after leader of the opposition in the state assembly, Suvendu Adhikari, met Shah and BJP national president JP Nadda in Delhi to complain about post-poll violence in Bengal. The meetings came close on the heels of a two-day national office bearers’ meet over the weekend that was chaired by Nadda where the BJP’s performance in the assembly elections held in March was discussed threadbare. The BJP bagged only 77 of the 294 seats while the TMC won 213.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has also expressed concerns over post-poll violence in the state. At its recent meeting in the capital, the issue of “extremist ideology” taking root in Bengal was discussed.
“I personally feel that the situation in Bengal is much worse than what is required to enforce Article 356. However, our party has not taken a formal stand on this issue yet. Wait and see,” said Adhikari who will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday.
“Those indulging in violence must remember that Bengal is a state in India and not an independent country,” he added.
In Kolkata, Ghosh said, “I do not know why our central leaders met Adhikari in Delhi. We will start a state-wide agitation against post-poll violence from June 23 and meet President Ram Nath Kovind with a petition. More than 30,000 of our supporters have fled their homes and gone into hiding because of the terror unleashed by TMC.”
Before the polls, Ghosh said if people of the state demand Article 356, the Centre will have to think about it.
BJP Lok Sabha member Arjun Singh, however, demanded President’s rule. “The situation calls for immediate enforcement of Article 356. A time will come when people who are not being able to save their families will retaliate,” he said.
TMC leaders dismissed the allegations. Some ruling party leaders said Adhikari was meeting Union ministers and top BJP leaders in Delhi to save himself from being prosecuted in criminal cases such as the 2016 Narada sting operation being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the recent theft of tarpaulin in East Midnapore, which is being investigated by the state police.
“BJP’s strategy on the face of its depleting control is clear. BJP cannot fight TMC and Mamata Banerjee politically. Defeat stares them in the face all around. Hence, bogey of President’s Rule being raised in Bengal even by Tarpaulin Thief to divert attention. HIS MASTER’S VOICE !” tweeted TMC Rajya Sabha member Sukhendu Sekhar Roy.
Rajib Banerjee, who lost his Domjur seat in Howrah district, wrote the post days after Subhranshu Roy, son of BJP national vice-president and Bengal leader Mukul Roy, wrote on his social media page that self-criticism is more necessary than criticising a government elected by people
While Mukul Roy won the Krishnanagar North seat in Nadia district in the recent assembly polls, his son, Subhranshu Roy, was defeated from the Bijpur seat that he held in North 24 Parganas district. Mukul Roy, who was the TMC’s founder member and a close aide of Mamata Banerjee, joined the BJP in 2017. His son switched sides two years later.
Mukul Roy, too, skipped the party’s meeting in Kolkata on Tuesday. “He could not come because his wife is admitted in hospital,” said Ghosh, who faced agitation by party workers on June 4 at Chinsurah in Hooghly district where people demanded the expulsion of district unit president Gautam Chatterjee. On Monday, the BJP state leadership issued a show-cause notice to Subir Nag, the former district president, amid allegations that he engineered the agitation.
Reacting to the dissidence in the BJP, Abhishek Banerjee said, “BJP leaders should put their house in order instead of bringing false allegations.”
In a unique incident, some TMC workers, who joined the BJP prior to the polls at Labhpur in Birbhum district, went around a village in an auto-rickshaw on Tuesday and announced over the public address system that they made a mistake and would like to return to the ruling party.
Several leaders who attended the BJP’s state officer bearers’ meeting in Kolkata pointed out issues that they said led to the party’s defeat in the assembly polls. Those who attended the meeting told HT on condition of anonymity said some leaders opined that campaign speeches of Hindi-speaking leaders from north Indian states failed to touch public sentiment.
Others said senior leaders from other states intervened too much in campaign policy without having any knowledge of ground reality. Questions were also raised on the selection of candidates. “The profile of candidates led to dissidence in the ranks at some seats even before the polls were held,” said a leader who attended the meeting.