Removal Of Dilip Ghosh As Bengal BJP Chief Signals A Vital Course Correction; Suvendu Adhikari To Get Free Hand To Steer Party

by Jaideep Mazumdar - Sep 23, 2021 06:00 AM +05:30 IST
Removal Of Dilip Ghosh As Bengal BJP Chief Signals A Vital Course Correction; Suvendu Adhikari To Get Free Hand To Steer Party
Sukanta Majumdar and Dilip Ghosh
  • Adhikari, and new state BJP president, Sukanta Majumdar, have their tasks cut out for them.

    As a team, they will have to arrest further decline of the party in the state.

In what can be termed as a long overdue but welcome move, Dilip Ghosh was removed from the post of the president of the BJP in Bengal and Sukanta Majumdar appointed in his place.

The axe should have fallen on Ghosh in early May itself, soon after the declaration of the results of the Assembly polls. If not for anything else, Ghosh ought to have been removed because, as the helmsman of the party in the state, he was responsible for the bruising defeat that the party suffered in the polls.

By retaining him as the state party chief for nearly five months after the humiliating performance at the hustings, the central BJP leadership allowed the abrasive Ghosh to wreck a lot of damage.

Ghosh had rubbed many people within the party the wrong way. At a time when it was necessary to protect workers of the party who were under attack from Trinamool goons, Ghosh was found wanting. He, and many other ‘leaders’ of the state unit of the party, retreated into their shells immediately after the declaration of results when Trinamool goons launched brutal attacks on BJP workers and supporters. And at a time when he should have taken the lead in instilling hope amongst demoralised workers and pepping them up, Ghosh chose to alienate more and more party colleagues through his actions and utterances.

Ghosh has a sharp tongue and is very indiscreet in his actions and words, and this has alienated many in the party.

It does no credit to the BJP central leadership that Ghosh was allowed to continue in the state president’s post and cause a lot of damage to the party over the last five months.

Be that as it may, the appointment of Sukanta Majumdar, a soft-spoken and low-key academic who is also the party MP from Balurghat in North Bengal’s Uttar Dinajpur district, is a welcome development.

Majumdar, 41, is non-controversial and not over-ambitious. He fits into the image of the quintessential Bengali bhadralok (gentleman), being an academic (he is assistant professor of botany at the state-run University of Gour Banga). He does not belong to any faction within the party and has a long association with the RSS.

But that does not mean Majumdar is a walkover, as he demonstrated quite clearly on Tuesday (September 21), a day after his sudden appointment as the state party chief. Speaking to party workers at a felicitation programme, he launched a broadside on the Trinamool and equated it to the Taliban.

On Wednesday (September 22), too, Majumdar made a show of his spunk when he confronted policemen who stopped him from campaigning in Bhowanipore where bypolls are due on September 30.

The police had barred his entry for campaigning into areas around Mamata Banerjee’s residence, stating that it was a ‘high security zone’. Majumdar riled the police top brass and Trinamool leaders by terming the state police as the ‘West Bengal Pishi Service’ (pishi means paternal aunt in Bengali, a reference to Mamata Banerjee who is the paternal aunt of Trinamool yuvaraj Abhishek).

It is thus apparent that Majumdar will be no pushover and when required, he can be quite tough. He also possesses the right temperament to take along everyone in the party with him. Majumdar, being soft-spoken, accommodative, inspiring and possessing just the right degree of aggression, is just what the BJP needs in Bengal now.

But more than all this, Majumdar’s appointment sends a strong and unequivocal signal to all within and outside the party: that Suvendu Ahikari, for all practical purposes, will steer the party in Bengal.

Ghosh had been resentful of Adhikari’s induction and rise in the party. His animosity towards Adhikari was evident, especially after the Nandigram strongman (Adhikari) held multiple meetings with Prime Minister Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and party national president J.P.Nadda after the Assembly polls. Ghosh was not invited to any of these meetings.

Ghosh, say party leaders, was trying to obstruct Adhikari and throw a spanner in the latter’s works.

“Dilip Ghosh has never been comfortable with any independent-minded person and has always surrounded himself with sycophants. Adhikari, being a leader in his own right and an astute politician who has proved his mettle multiple times, would never kow-tow to Ghosh,” said a senior state leader.

Majumdar is expected to get along very well with Adhikari and the two, it is said, have struck a good rapport. But it will be Adhikari who will matter more.

Adhikari is well-known throughout the state. His organisational skills are proven: he was singularly responsible for making the anti-land acquisition movement at Nandigram, which brought Mamata Banerjee to power in the state, a great success.

“Adhikari organised opposition to the ruling CPI(M) in Nandigram and resisted fierce attacks by the CPI(M)’s killer squads. He kept the movement going despite all odds and Mamata Banerjee depended wholly on him. He had administrative experience also and having been in Trinamool, he knows how the ruling party functions. He is a hands-on politician who does not shy away from a fight. Defeating Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram has made him a hero and he is looked up to by party workers all over the state,” said the BJP leader who did not want to be named.

By appointing the low-key Majumdar to the state party president’s post, the BJP central leadership has signalled that Suvendu Adhikari will steer the party in Bengal.

Ghosh was proving to be a big hurdle for Adhikari and, thus, a liability for the party. His removal will set matters right and allow Adhikari a free hand to give direction to the party in Bengal.

Adhikari, and Sukanta Majumdar, have their tasks cut out for them. As a team, they will have to arrest further decline of the party in the state, enthuse demoralised party workers, smoothen many feathers ruffled by Ghosh, win over estranged partymen and make the BJP fighting fit in Bengal.

Their immediate goal is clear: to retain, and if possible increase, the BJP’s tally of 18 Lok Sabha seats (that it won in Bengal in 2019) in the general elections in 2024.

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