Kolkata: West Bengal upcoming assembly elections are yet to reveal BJP’s popularity among its citizens, but its traction in political lobby is so great that the party, in less than two years span, witnessed switch over of 46 rival politicians who joined the saffron party after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Majority of them – 34 candidates – are from the ruling Trinamool Congress, six from the CPM, four from Congress and one each from Forward Bloc and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM).
Of the 46 candidates who have joined the party over the last two years, 36 joined the BJP in just the last six months, upsetting old times party workers.
For this year’s W. Bengal assembly polls BJP has announced 282 candidates so far but the selection of candidates has led to large-scale protests and infightings among the party members across the state in almost every district for having given tickets to those who joined the BJP recently.
Angered with the ticket distribution after the release of the list, five old timers have quit the BJP, and some others have threatened to quit if announced candidates were not changed. Under pressure from its district leaders, the BJP was forced to change its candidate in one seat. Given to this outcry, noted economist and former Chief Economic Advisor Ashok Lahiri was replaced by Suman Kanjilal in Alipurduar seat in north Bengal.
Till date BJP has released names of its candidates in 282 number of seats out of 294, while left one seat (Baghmundi) in Purulia district to its alliance partner AJSU.
“There are only 294 seats in Bengal. We cannot give tickets to everyone. Some will get it and others will not. We have to accept this. Those who are vandalising party offices, tearing up posters and setting things on fire cannot be a member of any political party. We do not approve such behaviours and we strongly condemn it,” said BJP spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya.
On March 14, BJP released its second list of candidates for Bengal assembly polls and it opened a can of worms. Party workers from Hooghly, South 24 Parganas and Howrah districts staged a protest outside BJP office in Hastings area of the city to demand a change in the candidates. However, districts like Purulia, Bankura, East and West Midnapore saw no protest over the released candidate list for the first two phases.
The ticket denial resulted in BJP leader and TMC defector Sovan Chatterjee and his associate Baishakhi Banerjee’s withdrawal from the saffron party after both were denied tickets. Chatterjee was expecting to be fielded from Behala Purba, which he had won in 2011 and 2016 as a TMC MLA. It was learnt that Chatterjee, in a letter to West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh, said he and Banerjee no longer wished to remain in the party. Taking to her Facebook handle, Banerjee wrote she felt “humiliated” and that “conspiracies and treachery” would not last long.