BJP won’t project any CM face in Bengal for 2021 polls: Kailash Vijayvargiya
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will not project anyone as its chief ministerial candidate in West Bengal for the crucial 2021 assembly polls, Kailash Vijayvargiya, the party’s national general secretary overseeing the state unit said in Kolkata late Sunday night.
“The achievements of the Narendra Modi government will be our face and it will ensure our victory. After the polls, elected BJP lawmakers can select their leader,” said Vijayvargiya who is in the city to attend a series of meetings where strengths and weaknesses of district units in south Bengal are being evaluated.
A silent campaign over the BJP’s ‘prospective chief ministerial face’ for the 2021 election had become a thorn in the flesh for the leadership, a number of BJP leaders told HT.
“We strongly suspect that the campaign was started by a section of party leaders pursuing personal agenda. It became the subject of widespread gossip and speculative news items, helping the TMC to project our Bengal unit as a divided house. All this will end with Vijayvargiya’s announcement,” said a senior BJP leader, requesting anonymity.
Quoting unnamed “BJP sources,” numerous news portals, social media pages and vernacular dailies have named a prominent sports personality, a BJP Rajya Sabha member, a Union minister, a member of a Right-wing think tank group and, last but not the least, a monk from the Ramakrishna Mission as the possible chief ministerial candidate against Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee.
While the monk dismissed the rumour, the others avoided running into any debate.
Significantly, the salient point of all these posts and news reports was an attempt to argue that the BJP needed to project an “erudite Bengali” as the next chief minister since state president Dilip Ghosh, despite being the most popular among opposition leaders in Bengal, invites criticism with his controversial comments.
This, BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders told HT, was the outcome of personal aspirations of a handful of leaders.
Ghosh was an RSS pracharak from 1984 till he joined the Bengal BJP in 2014. Under his leadership, the BJP won 18 of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats in 2019, which is a record. “Maybe he is a bit rustic but Ghosh has become a darling of the crowds. This might have made some people frustrated and insecure,” said a Bengal BJP leader who handled campaigns in 2019.
“The timing of these so-called news reports and social media posts, which were clearly planted, is significant. The party has to restructure the central organisation, a process delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Also, the Union cabinet may undergo some reshuffle,” said a senior leader aware of the developments.
Not willing to comment on internal differences, Bengal BJP vice-president Jay Prakash Majumdar said, “I can only talk about two facts. The Bengal BJP fought unitedly in 2019 under the leadership of Ghosh and created a situation where the TMC looked vulnerable. Secondly, the central leadership re-elected Ghosh as state president for the second term and made it clear that he will lead the battle in 2021.”
The Assam unit of the ruling BJP on Sunday also rubbished veteran Congress leader Tarun Gogoi’s claim that the former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi could be the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate for the 2021 assembly polls. It said the party will have no chief ministerial face.