The Telegraph
Saturday , June 7 , 2014
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BJP dilemma: whether to take all or screen
Congress and AAP leaders join party

Calcutta, June 6: A two-day BJP state committee meeting will start tomorrow at a time there is a debate in the party on whether leaders and activists from rival parties should be inducted without any scrutiny or screening.

“The leadership realises that we need to expand our organisation, without which we will remain a marginal player in Bengal,” a BJP vice-president said today. “But the question is how to go about the expansion drive. Should there be a screening of new entrants or should we allow everybody to join the party?” he asked.

After the thumping majority in Parliament and a surge in its support base in Bengal, activists of other parties are making a beeline to join the BJP in Bengal.

Pradip Ghosh, a veteran Congress leader from central Calcutta, and around 100 Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) members from across the state joined the BJP today in the presence of Rahul Sinha, the state BJP president. Manoj Poddar, the son of former Burrabazar Congress leader Deokinandan Poddar, also joined the BJP.

“The entire AAP organisation in Bengal has joined the BJP,” Sinha said.

A section in the BJP is, however, apprehensive about throwing the gate open to everyone. Amid rumours that the party was in touch with disgruntled Trinamul and Left leaders, this section in the BJP state unit said it would bring the matter to the notice of the central leadership. “We think there should be some screening,” a BJP general secretary said.

During the two-day executive committee meeting, the issue of inducting leaders and activists from other parties will be discussed. The meeting will also focus on assessing the party’s Lok Sabha poll performance to identify the areas where the BJP can emerge as a major force in the 2016 Assembly elections and the polls to 17 civic bodies scheduled this year.

“Now, we have limited organisational reach in the state. In terms of experience, our district-level leaders are no match for ward-level leaders of parties such as Trinamul, CPM and the Congress,” a senior BJP leader said.

According to him, the time has come to decide whether to fill the organisational void by inducting members of other parties or prepare the state BJP’s own leadership for a bigger challenge. The leader said the biggest problem for the BJP in Bengal was the dearth of senior leaders who had acceptance across the state.