Bajoria after joining the BJP in Calcutta. (Bibhas Lodh)
Calcutta, Aug. 23: Industrialist Shishir Bajoria, 57, today formally snapped ties with the CPM and joined the BJP as a primary member, the move marking the end of a chapter in Bengal politics that witnessed the rise of a set of people from the business community.
Bajoria — who has refractory units spread across six countries including the US, China and Germany — was a prominent member of this group of businessmen who had access both to Alimuddin Street, the CPM party headquarters, and Writers’ Buildings, the seat of power in Bengal.
“While most members of the set restricted their association with senior leaders to the personal level, Bajoria was a bit different as he was seen at various party programmes, including rallies at the Brigade Parade Grounds. He also set up the Rajasthan-Bengal Maitree Parishad to seek the Rajasthani community’s support for the CPM before the 2011 Assembly polls,” recounted a senior CPM leader.
CPM general secretary Prakash Karat, politburo member Sitaram Yechury and state secretary Biman Bose had addressed meetings convened by the forum.
According to the CPM insider, Bajoria was close to Jyoti Basu and former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee in his early days and was part of various government delegations that travelled abroad in the mid- and late-1990s to scout for investment in Bengal. Although he could not strike the same rapport with Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, his proximity to Yechury and central committee member Mohammad Salim was well known in party circles.
Bajoria formally joined the CPM only last year, becoming a member of its Rajasthan unit.
Many in the party had wondered why he had joined the CPM in its most difficult phase. Some purists raised questions about an industrialist joining a party that took pride in representing the working class. Although the ever-smiling Bajoria changed to kurta-pyjamas to match his comrades at Promode Dasgupta Bhavan in Calcutta and AK Gopalan Bhavan in Delhi, some remained sceptical about him.
“For 15 years, I was in the background. The CPM asked me to join the Rajasthan unit and I obeyed the order,” Bajoria told The Telegraph after addressing a news conference at the BJP state office in central Calcutta today.
With BJP state president Rahul Sinha sitting next to him, the industrialist explained his switch. “The CPM is no more a force in Bengal. The BJP is the new order that can bring about a change in Bengal. It’s Narendra Modi who will steer this change. That’s why I am joining the BJP,” Bajoria said, before adding that he was “disillusioned” with the CPM.
Several other members of the business set who were close to the Left had started distancing themselves from the party much earlier when the winds of change started blowing, and are now seen to be close to the Trinamul Congress government.
“Parivartan ka parivartan karna hai aur ab ek hi party hai (There is only one party that can change the change). This is a political decision and not a personal one. Despite being an industrialist, I joined the CPM to work for the people and the same reason has brought me to the BJP,” Bajoria said.
Asked about this, CPM state secretary Bose said: “Maybe he has quit. But I don’t have any official information.’’