BJP central leaders try to end tussle between Bengal president, youth front chief
On Saturday, BJP’s state youth front’s chief Saumitra Khan left the BJYM WhatsApp group, saying he would resign from the BJP. He, however, returned to the group after a few hours.Updated: Oct 25, 2020, 21:46 IST
Two days after the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) West Bengal unit president Dilip Ghosh dissolved all the district committees of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the state youth front headed by Lok Sabha member Saumitra Khan, the party’s central leaders are trying to end the tussle between the two.
BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and national secretary Arvind Menon – both leaders look after the organisation in West Bengal – are in touch with Ghosh and Khan, state leaders aware of the developments said.
Khan is known to be close to Mukul Roy, national vice-president of the BJP who left the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in 2017 and played a key role in the BJP’s electoral success in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Roy made thousands of TMC workers and many leaders, including Khan, defect to the saffron camp.
The new BJYM district committees were formed over the past five weeks. On Thursday, Khan even appointed three vice-presidents and four secretaries of the new state committee. On Friday, Ghosh dissolved all the district committees and empowered the BJP’s district presidents to take over till further decisions are taken.
On Saturday, an aggrieved Khan left the BJYM WhatsApp group, saying he would resign from the BJP. He, however, returned to the group after a few hours and uploaded a video message on his Twitter handle.
“It is true that we will fight to establish a BJP government in Bengal next year. It is also true that I was aggrieved. But I am not going to leave the party because of one person. The party is our family. I am honoured that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have shown us a path. For BJYM workers, the only task now is to carry on agitation relentlessly,” Khan said in the video without naming anyone. He also wished BJYM members on the occasion of Ashtami, the second day of Durga Puja.
Khan came under limelight on October 8 when the BJYM organised the ‘Nabanna Chalo’ (march to the state secretariat) agitation in protest against lack of employment opportunities in Bengal and law and order problems. This was the BJP’s biggest agitation in recent years.
BJP leaders, who did not want to be quoted, said Ghosh dissolved the committees following differences with Khan over appointment of some office bearers who were earlier in the Trinamool Congress (TMC). Ghosh wrote the order on his personal letterhead as Lok Sabha member from Midnapore and not on the party’s letterhead.
Khan was the sitting TMC Lok Sabha member from Bishnupur constituency in Bankura district when he joined the BJP before the 2019 polls. He retained the seat and was appointed as president of the state BJYM about two months ago.
“Due to some reasons, till any further announcements, all district presidents of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha and respective district committees are being dissolved from today. Till further announcements their duties will be taken up by the respective district presidents of the Bharatiya Janata Party,” said the organisational announcement signed by Ghosh on Friday.
On Thursday, Shankudeb Panda, also a former TMC leader, was appointed as the state vice-president of the BJYM by Khan. Two others, Digvijay Singh and Avishek Singhania were also made vice-presidents and four persons, including actress Rimjhim Mitra, were appointed as secretaries.
Neither Ghosh nor Khan made any statement on this issue on Sunday. Party leaders said the differences had been brewing since the first week of September when Khan published a list of members in the BJYM’s new state committee. Ghosh declared the list null and void and wanted changes to be made. Khan had to publish a new list in which Prakash Das, a youth leader known to be close to Ghosh, was named as the Morcha general secretary.
“A section of central leaders of the BJP wanted Shankudeb Panda, who is known to be close to Mukul Roy, to be the Morcha general secretary,” a state BJP leader said on condition of anonymity. He said Vijayvargiya, who also wanted Panda’s induction, had a discussion with Ghosh but the latter was not willing to budge.
BJP leaders said Ghosh had reservations about former TMC leader Anupam Hazra as well. Hazra, the former TMC Lok Sabha MP from Bolpur, defected to the BJP in March 2019 and was defeated by TMC’s Mimi Chakraborty at Jadavpur Lok Sabha constituency. He was first made a vice-president in the BJYM in September. This decision too was changed and Hazra was recently appointed as a national secretary of the BJP in place of Rahul Sinha. An aggrieved Sinha has distanced himself from the party since then.