Bengal BJP to bring about sweeping organisational changes to crack whip on dissidents

The proposed measures come in the backdrop of poll reverses, growing infighting and reverse exodus, the latest being the switchover of BJP national vice-president Mukul Roy to the ruling party.
West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh (Photo | PTI)
West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh (Photo | PTI)

KOLKATA: Smarting under the assembly election defeat, the West Bengal BJP is likely to bring about a sweeping organisational reshuffle to crack the whip on recalcitrant leaders and a section of turncoats, who joined the saffron party ahead of the polls.

The state BJP is also mulling to put up a "screening window" while inducting leaders from other parties, and taking a "Bengal-specific political line" in tandem with its pan- India policy to take on the TMC''s sub-nationalism, party sources said.

The BJP has decided to revamp the organisation by rewarding efficient party workers and leaders and remove several turncoats from local and district levels. It has also decided to rein in dissidence with a two-pronged approach.

The proposed measures come in the backdrop of poll reverses, growing infighting and reverse exodus, the latest being the switchover of BJP national vice-president Mukul Roy to the ruling party in the state.

After its defeat in the assembly polls in May, the state BJP has been a divided house with constant bickering among senior leaders who are blaming each other for the failure, the party sources said.

"Discussions are underway for certain changes at various levels of the organisation. There have been some issues. It would have been better if such things could have been avoided," state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh told PTI.

Asked whether the BJP will take action against dissidents and TMC turncoats who are openly speaking against the saffron party, Ghosh said, "No one is above party discipline".

"There are some people who had joined the party in the hope of getting something if the BJP came to power. But now, as we have failed, they are speaking in a different tone. All of us have to follow the rules and discipline of the party," he said.

There is a growing resentment among rank and file as no action has been taken against TMC turncoats like Rajib Banerjee and Saumitra Khan who have been openly speaking against the BJP leadership since the poll debacle, party sources said.

The situation worsened after the state leadership took action against some district leaders but did not touch the state-level turncoats who were openly defying the party.

"There has been a lot of pressure from workers to take action against the errant leaders as this is not how a disciplined party like the BJP works. We have already zeroed in on dissidents and prepared a list, and action will be taken as soon as we get the central leadership''s nod," a senior BJP leader, who is privy to the development, said.

The party has decided to take a two-pronged approach to rein in dissidence -- ignore statements of some errant leaders so that they become quiet, and issue show-cause notices to the more vocal ones, with the eventual aim to make them quit the party.

"We don''t want people who are not keen on staying with us," he said.

Several other turncoats like Sonali Guha, Sarala Murmu, Dipendu Biswas and Bacchu Hansda have expressed their desire to return to the TMC.

Learning from assembly poll "mistakes", the party has decided to establish a "screening team" whose approval would be mandatory for anyone willing to join the party.

"We have made a big mistake by admitting anyone and everyone from the TMC. As a result of this, we could not benefit from anti-incumbency in many areas, whereas in other places, party units got filled with turncoats thus alienating our tried-and-tested workers and leaders," another senior state BJP leader said.

He pointed out that in the 149 seats where the BJP fielded newcomers who had joined from other parties, the strike rate was just nine, whereas old-timers were fielded in 68 of 77 seats it won.

"This figure shows that the strategy to take leaders from other parties was a complete flop," he said.

The state unit has also decided to adopt a "Bengal- specific political line" after approval from the central leadership to counter the TMC''s narrative that the "BJP is a party of outsiders".

"One of the main reasons behind our defeat in the polls was that we couldn''t touch a chord with the masses as we were branded as outsiders.

"Being a national party, we can''t have an approach like a regional party but we will have a Bengal-specific political line in tandem with our party''s national policy to take on TMC in the state," he said.

Although the BJP improved its tally from three to 77 in the state assembly, it miserably failed to achieve its much-hyped target of 200 plus seats, as the TMC stormed to power for the third consecutive term by winning 213 seats in the 294-member assembly.

The ruling TMC, while reacting to the changes the saffron camp is planning, said the party would fall like a pack of cards as it went for an "inorganic growth by inducting leaders from other parties".

"The BJP''s end in West Bengal has already begun. It will fall like a pack of cards. They wanted to build a castle on the sand by allowing inorganic growth. Now they are facing the music as the party doesn''t have any base in the state," senior TMC leader Sougata Roy said.

Political scientist Suman Bhattacharya feels that the BJP won''t be able to arrest its slide as it has "lost the plot".

"Not just TMC turncoats, even veteran BJP leaders like Ganga Prasad Sharma are joining the ruling party in the state as the saffron party has lost the plot and narrative in West Bengal," he said.

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