After organisational change in Bengal BJP, central team to monitor progress
Strong supervision by the BJP central leadership is being viewed by state office-bearers as a measure to stop internal rumblings and iron out differences between leaders who earlier worked for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and those who joined in recent years.Updated: Oct 31, 2020, 00:14 IST
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) central leaders want the West Bengal unit to hit the road with full steam in the second week of November and subsequently intensify campaign for the crucial assembly polls due in about five months. The entire movement will be monitored from Delhi, state leaders told HT on condition of anonymity.
Strong supervision by the BJP central leadership is being viewed by state office-bearers as a measure to stop internal rumblings and iron out differences between leaders who earlier worked for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and those who joined in recent years, leaving the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC). The most prominent among the former TMC leaders is Mukul Roy, who was recently made a national vice-president.
On October 28, BJP president J P Nadda appointed Amitava Chakraborty as the new general secretary (organization) of the Bengal unit, replacing Subrata Chatterjee, a former RSS leader known to be close to state president Dilip Ghosh. Chakraborty is the joint general secretary (organization) of the state BJP since 2019. He too was earlier in the RSS.
Differences between Ghosh and Roy and his followers (who switched over from the TMC) made news over the last two months. BJP leaders said the party’s central leaders want this to end so that a strong fight can be put up against the TMC in 2021.
“Many leaders from the state have complained to the central leadership that they are not being able to work freely. We will not be surprised if more organisational changes are made,” a state leader said on condition of anonymity.
Nadda will be on a two-day tour of the state in the first week of November. He is scheduled to address party leaders from 15 districts in south Bengal. The organisational meetings to be held on November 6 and 7.
“The strategy of the coming movements will be decided at these meetings. The party president will brief district and state leaders. Union home minister Amit Shah will also visit Bengal but the dates have not been finalised yet,” a state vice-president told HT on Friday.
Although the BJP won 18 of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats in 2019, party leaders said the assembly polls will not be a cakewalk, especially in the 15 south Bengal districts where most of the assembly segments are located. Under instructions from Shah, the party is now strengthening the organisation right down to the polling booth level.
In the north Bengal district of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar, Cooch Behar, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur and Malda, the BJP won seven seats last year.
In sharp contrast, the saffron camp could capture only 11 seats in the south Bengal districts of Bankura, West Burdwan, East Burdwan, Birbhum, Purulia, Murshidabad, Nadia, West Midnapore, Jhargram, East Midnapore, Hooghly, Howrah, Kolkata, North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas.
The organisational changes are directly related to the party’s election strategy, BJP leaders said.
On September 26, the central leadership dropped former Bengal unit president Rahul Sinha from the national committee and inducted two former TMC leaders, Roy and Anupam Hazra. Hazra was made a national secretary in place of Sinha. The announcement was made by Nadda in Delhi.
As the reshuffle led to rumblings over elevation of former TMC leaders in the hierarchy, Ghosh and Roy were summoned to Delhi in early October to meet Shah. The former BJP national president, who has set the target to oust the TMC government in 2021, charted out some strategies. The leaders were reportedly told to work as a team.
Ghosh, however, recently got into a dispute with former TMC leader and Lok Sabha MP from Bishnupur (Bankura district) Saumitra Khan who was made president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the youth front, about two months ago. A week ago, Ghosh dissolved all BJYM district committees formed by Khan. “This did not go down well with central leaders,” said a senior state BJP leader.