West Bengal: As Third MLA Defects, Things Could Get Worse For the BJP

As the internal feud shows no signs of dying down, sources suggest that more leaders may leave the saffron party.

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Kolkata: Even as a third MLA has defected from the BJP to the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC), there does not seem to be a resolution to the saffron party’s internal feud in West Bengal, leading many to predict that it is on the brink of severe erosion.

The latest to cross party lines was Biswajit Das, the Bagdah MLA, who returned to the Trinamool Congress. Before him, Mukul Roy, MLA of Krishnangar, and Bishnupur MLA Tanmoy Ghosh had also rejoined Mamata Banerjee’s party after its decisive victory in the 2021 assembly polls.

The BJP has also been weakened by former Union minister and MP Babul Supriyo’s decision to ‘quit politics’. Significantly, Nisith Pramanik, who is now a Union minister, contested from the Dinhata assembly constituency and was elected. However, upon instruction from the party high command, he resigned as an MLA and remained as an MP. Similarly, Jagannath Sarkar, the BJP MP from Ranaghat, also contested an assembly constituency and won. He too did not take the oath of office.

With Das re-joining the TMC, the BJP’s functional tally in the assembly has been reduced from 77 to 72.

Das, a two-time MLA from the TMC, had defected to the BJP in 2019. He won from Bagdah on a BJP ticket in the 2021 assembly polls.

Das said, “I never felt very comfortable in the BJP. I wanted to return to the TMC long ago. The BJP has done nothing for Bengal.” Das said that there were differences within the BJP and when he tried to resolve them, the party did not pay heed to the problems.”

Sources within the BJP and also the TMC suggest that Das will not be the last to leave the BJP. On Wednesday, seven BJP MLAs were absent from an internal party meeting of North Bengal leaders. The leaders who were absent were Gopal Saha, Vivekananda Bauri, Satyendranath Roy, Manoj Orao, Ashok Lahiri, Dibakar Ghorami and Jewel Murmu.

The saffron party, which was buoyed by its success in the 2019 assembly elections – when it won 18 of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats – has not been able to overcome the setback it suffered in the 2021 assembly elections. While the party expected to challenge Mamata Banerjee if not defeat her, it ended up with less than 80 seats in the 294-member house.

Representative image of BJP members at work ahead of a campaign rally in West Bengal. Photo: PTI.

‘Fed up’ with party

A section of senior BJP leaders is of the opinion that those who switched joined the BJP from the TMC before the assembly election are “fed up” with the party’s functioning, as there is a fierce internal feud and intense lobbying by various factions.

Many BJP leaders claim that they were not allowed to work in their own constituency and a section of BJP workers have not been involved in various party works. This has only intensified the internal feud and is the reason why some are choosing to ‘quit’ politics while others have returned to the TMC.

A senior BJP leader said, “We expected more support from the central leadership, but we are not being allowed to express our problems to the leadership. When we tried to formulate a different plan and strategy for the campaign, the state leadership did not want to listen and formulated it in their own way.”

The leader also claimed that the central leadership has not paid any attention to the problems faced by workers who were attacked in post-poll violence.

Sources in the state BJP also say that many actors who joined the saffron party before the assembly election may be on the verge of resigning. They have not been given any responsibilities and do not want to remain as onlookers.

Rimjhim Mitra, one of the actors who recently joined the BJP, said that though she was not given a ticket to contest the assembly election, she had been looking forward to taking up other responsibilities within the party. “But I have not been given any responsibilities and I have been sidelined. I have not yet quit the BJP, but I have expressed my displeasure to the leadership,” she said.

Dilip Ghosh, the state BJP president, rejected allegations of a feud within the party and claimed that those who are leaving the party are doing so out of their own choice. He said the party has given enough space for everybody to present their views.

Partha Chatterjee, the TMC leader and state industry minister, speaking at Das’s return to the party, said, “Those who are now joining the TMC are fed up with the internal feud inside the party as the BJP does not give proper respect to its workers. This has prompted many of them to leave politics or join other parties.”