West Bengal

Revolt Brewing In Bengal BJP Against Suvendu Adhikari And Some Others, Central Leadership Needs To Take Note

Jaideep Mazumdar

Jun 07, 2024, 03:09 PM | Updated 03:09 PM IST

Bengal BJP chief Sukanta Majumdar (foreground) and Dilip Ghosh.
Bengal BJP chief Sukanta Majumdar (foreground) and Dilip Ghosh.
  • Rebellion grows in Bengal BJP against Suvendu Adhikari; central leadership should urgently address the internal conflict.
  • The Bengal unit of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been riven by dissensions, squabbles and ego battles for many years, is facing a grave crisis now. 

    An intense revolt is brewing against party leader Suvendu Adhikari and some central leaders who had been deputed to oversee the functioning of the party in the state. 

    The revolt started after the sub-par performance of the party in the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections. A powerful section of state party leaders led by former state party chief Dilip Ghosh have raised this banner of revolt. 

    Some of the central leaders who had been deputed to oversee party affairs and the entire election campaign in Bengal are being squarely blamed for the mess. These leaders are known to be close to Amit Shah and are said to have acted in a biased and even mala fide manner to sabotage the prospects of some candidates who they disliked. 

    “The entire process starting from ticket distribution to planning the poll campaign, allocating funds and electioneering was micro-managed by these central leaders in close association with Suvendu Adhikari. Old-timers were sidelined and even the RSS was kept at a distance and not consulted,” a senior party leader with ties to the RSS told Swarajya

    Adhikari and the coterie of central leaders he is close to stand accused of favouritism.

    “They rewarded sycophancy and newcomers, including turncoats from other parties who may have played the role of trojan horses, were rewarded. Old-timers were not only neglected, but also humiliated. People with no knowledge of Bengal and its unique political culture as well as the sentiments of the people here, controlled everything,” he added. 

    What has angered large sections of party functionaries in the state was the distribution of tickets. Not only was the selection of candidates poor, some incumbent MPs were unnecessarily shifted from one constituency to another. 

    A good example of this is Dilip Ghosh who was shifted from Medinipur, which he won in 2019 and where he did considerable work, to Bardhaman-Durgapur whose incumbent MP, S S Ahluwalia, was shifted to Asansol. 

    Party sources told Swarajya that Ghosh was shifted away from Medinipur at the behest of Suvendu Adhikari who considers Medinipur to be his backyard. Ghosh and Adhikari do not share amicable ties. 

    The BJP eventually lost all three seats — Medinipur, Asansol and Bardhaman-Durgapur.

    Unlike the Trinamool Congress which declared its candidates for all the 42 seats in Bengal at one go much before campaigning commenced, the coterie of BJP leaders who oversaw the elections in the state kept delaying the announcement of names of candidates. 

    The name of the Darjeeling candidate, for instance, was declared less than a month before the polling date (26 April). There were strong rumours that Raju Bista, the incumbent MP from that constituency, would be dropped and former foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla would be given the party ticket. 

    Bista was given the ticket, and won by a margin of more than 1.78 lakh votes. His renomination was also the reason why Gorkhas in the neighbouring constituencies of Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar rallied behind the BJP. 

    BJP functionaries told Swarajya that many mistakes, some deliberate and some driven by allegedly ulterior motives, were committed. 

    Many state leaders are also angry over all of them, except Suvendu Adhikari, being completely sidelined.

    “We had no say. We were not consulted and some of us were given only nominal responsibilities. We were only asked to campaign in specific seats and that too without much backup. Everything was disorganised, chaotic and lacking completely in sense and direction,” a senior office-bearer of the party told Swarajya

    State president Sukanta Majumdar has admitted that he was kept away from most decision-making and had little say in the choice of candidates and in framing campaign strategies. 

    Ghosh has publicly lashed out at Adhikari and the coterie of central leaders overseeing Bengal without naming them. Speaking to media persons, he blamed “conspiracies and backbiting”. 

    He took to X (read this) to remind his party of what former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had said: “Keep one thing in mind: even one old karyakarta of the party should not be neglected. If necessary, let ten new karyakartas be separated. Because the old workers are the guarantee of our victory. Trusting new karyakartas too quickly is not advisable”.  

    This was a not-too-subtle allusion to Suvendu Adhikari who joined the BJP in December 2020. Soon after his switch-over from the Trinamool Congress to the saffron party, Adhikari was given primacy by the BJP central leadership. 

    Ranaghat MP Jagannath Sarkar — he won the seat by a margin of nearly 1.87 lakh votes — agreed with Ghosh.

    “What Dilipda said is right. Veterans cannot be ignored and sidelined in a party. I don’t know why his constituency (Medinipur) was changed at the eleventh hour and he was asked to contest from elsewhere. The party has to think about the many mistakes that have been made,” he told Swarajya

    BJP’s Bishnupur MP Saumitra Khan, who won the seat for the third consecutive term (he had won in 2014 on a Trinamool ticket and defected to the BJP on the eve of the 2019 elections), blamed inexperienced leadership for the debacle in Bengal. 

    What’s more serious was Khan's allegations that some BJP leaders were in league with the Trinamool. 

    “Maybe some senior leaders of the party entered into an understanding with the TMC. If that had not happened, then we would have won more seats in Bengal. Only experienced leaders can run the state unit of BJP. This seat (Bishnupur) should have been won by a margin of 1 lakh votes. If I was with the TMC, I would have won this seat by a margin of over 2 lakh votes,” he said.

    Khan defeated his estranged wife Sujata Mondal (fielded by the Trinamool) by a very narrow margin of 5,567 votes. 

    While Ghosh, Majumdar and Khan have voiced their grievances in public, many other leaders are doing so privately. And they are warning that if things are not set right, the revolt could spill out in the open. 

    Most functionaries and dedicated cadres of the party want a complete overhaul of the state unit, and removal of the central leaders who have created the mess in Bengal. 

    “We did not learn any lesson from the debacle in the 2021 assembly elections. We repeated the same mistakes this time also. This cannot continue, we need drastic changes in leadership and strategy. Old-timers have to be given their due, and factionalism has to end,” said the party functionary with RSS links. 

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