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Post-electoral reverse, blame game starts in West Bengal unit of BJP


Modi-Shah acolyte Subhedu Adhikari under fire from party ranks

By Tirthankar Mitra

With only 12 seats in its kitty even after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pre-poll announcement that BJP will give its best election performance in West Bengal, it is blame game time in the state saffron camp now. Chary of criticising the prime minister, factional feud has raised its head in the BJP state unit with former state chief Dilip Ghosh's coterie shooting its sharpest barbs at existing state unit head Sukanta Majumdar and leader of the Opposition, (LoP) Subhendu Adhikari.

Way back in 2019 , the state saffron camp had bagged 18 seats and gave ruling dispensation of the state, Trinamool Congress (TMC) a run for its money. The electoral triumph was followed by Ghosh being replaced by Majumdar.

Several Lok Sabha seats won during Ghosh's tenure have been lost in the recent election. While the party's tally of seats rose to an all time high during Ghosh's tenure, during Adhikari and Majumdar's period in office, the number of seats reduced though the state unit chief continued with his verbal duel with the TMC leaders, a senior leader said.

Post 2021 Assembly elections results saw Adhikari being made the leader of the Opposition. His increasing interaction with leadership of the BJP was followed by sidelining of Ghosh. Even the state BJP president was worried at the closeness of Adhikari to the Prime Minister and the Home Minister, marginalizing his authority.

Parachuting Agnimitra Paul, a former fashion designer and newly arisen BJP leader to contest from Midnapur Lok Sabha constituency and sending the local MP Dilip Ghosh to Bardhaman-Durgapur Lok Sabha was the proverbial last straw. The shuffling of constituencies turned out to be an instance of putting square pegs into round holes.

Ghosh's “shunting” from Midnapur is laid at Adhikari's door. While the former state BJP chief raised the charges of “politicking” and “needling” behind his defeat, no reply from the LoP has been forthcoming.

Even as Ghosh had voiced his discontent, it fell on deaf ears. After both Ghosh and Paul lost, the buck stopped at the desks of the state chief Majumdar and leader of the Opposition, Adhikari. Even the victories of former Calcutta High Court judge, Abhijit Gangopadhyay and LoP's younger brother Soumendu Adhikari are being stated to be examples of “localised influence”.

The charge cannot be dismissed as a baseless one as both Tamluk and Kanthi which have respectively elected Gangopadhyay and Adhikari are known to be within the LoP's area of influence. Subhendu Adhikari could not replicate these triumphs in a widespread manner. This contention is underscored by the electoral reverses of Ghosh, minister of state for home, Nisith Adhikari at Coochbehar and minister of state for , Subhash Sarkar at Bankura.

If Adhikari who switched loyalty from TMC had allegedly “favoured” other defectors rather than those who had been long time BJP activists, Sarkar was gheraoed and heckled by his party workers. These facts were overlooked and the reverses should not be passed off as “shock defeats”, a senior BJP leader said.

BJP's vote share in 2019 election had been 40.6 per cent while TMC's vote share stood at 43.7 per cent. The saffron camp vote share dropped to 38.15 per cent even as TMC registered a rise to 45.8 per cent, more than 2 per cent.

The signals of electoral reverse in 2024 Lok Sabha polls were flashed in the 2021 elections. But the saffron leadership failed to see it.

Poor candidate selection and overconfidence led to BJP's poll debacle. Winning by a not too wide a margin from Bishnupur, BJP candidate Soumitra Khan felt the defeat of other BJP candidates was owing to “incapable leadership of state level leaders”. Not stopping at these charges, he accused some of the local leaders of “reaching an understanding” with their TMC counterparts at grassroot, district and state levels.

It is time for an overhaul of the state leadership, sources stated. The national leadership should start the process with their ears to the ground in West Bengal, sources stated.

Election results have reduced Adhikari's high pitched poll campaign into sheer tall talk, a senior BJP leader said. Other dissident leaders feel that unless the national leadership makes a change in the state leadership, West Bengal unit will continue to be in the dumps.

(IPA Service)


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