BJP members clash at Circuit House in Dumka on Thursday. Telegraph picture
Dumka, Sept. 12: The BJP stands divided, both at the national and state levels.
While the central leadership is bickering over anointing Narendra Modi as the party’s PM candidate, the district wing witnessed an unsightly brawl over nomination of its president today.
Furious over the replacement of Binod Sharma by Dinesh Datta as the boss, former Jama MLA and national secretary of the party’s Scheduled Tribe front Sunil Soren led a group of party cadres on the rampage during a committee meeting at Circuit House.
According to eyewitnesses, enraged BJP cadres manhandled state vice-president and Santhal Pargana in-charge of the party Rakesh Prasad. The latter had arrived here from Ranchi today to preside over the meeting to expand the district unit and bridge the gap between the two factions since Datta’s nomination two months ago.
The anti-Datta faction had convened a separate meeting at Agrasen Bhavan and invited Prasad to hear out their grievances. When the state vice-president did not turn up, angry BJP workers gheraoed the Circuit House. They raised slogans, barged into the meeting, almost dragged out Prasad and packed him into his SUV.
As the situation threatened to spiral out of control, police were informed and a team from Town thana rushed to quell the protest.
Later, speaking to reporters, Prasad admitted that the meeting had been cancelled, but played down the attack on him. “I will report to the state president (Ravindra Rai) on the role of the dissident faction for necessary action,” he said.
Incidentally, the BJP has been divided ever since Rai took over state reins. The gap widened with Datta’s nomination. Hundreds of party workers and leaders owing allegiance to Sharma had written to Rai threatening mass resignation from primary membership of the party if Datta’s nomination was not revoked.
“Prasad did not behave impartially and entertained one faction while refusing to listen to the grievances of the other. He refused to meet me although I am an office-bearer,” Soren said, but denied manhandling the state leader.
Political observers feel that this internal feud, if not resolved quickly, will dent the BJP’s prospects in all the three Lok Sabha seats of Santhal Pargana — Godda, Dumka and Rajmahal — in the general elections next year.