Brij Kishore Singh. Picture by Kundan Yolmo
Siliguri, March 24: A BJP dissident who filed his nomination as an Independent today said two party leaders told him to pay Rs 10 lakh if he wanted to remain the candidate for ward 42 of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation.
A BJP leader whom Brij Kishore Singh named today said the allegation of bribe was "baseless".
Singh, a resident of ward 42 of Siliguri, today said that Biswapriya Roy Choudhury, the BJP state general secretary, and Rathindra Bose, the president of Siliguri (organisational) district, had demanded the money from him.
Bose said the allegations were "concocted".
"Last Saturday, Biswapriya Roy Choudhury and Rathindra Bose published the candidates' list for the civic polls. My name was there on the list as the candidate from ward 42. Following the announcement, I launched my campaign in my ward that afternoon," Singh said today.
"But the same evening, barely four-five hours after the list was published, these two leaders called me to a hotel on Hill Cart Road. They told me to contest from another ward and leave ward 42 for a new candidate. I was reluctant and made that clear...."
The 39-year-old transport businessman said: "They went on insisting and upon my refusal, they asked for Rs 10 lakh. They blatantly told me that if I intend to contest from ward 42, I will have to pay the money."
Singh said he walked out of the hotel after making it clear that he would file his nomination as a BJP candidate.
"The next day, I came to know that somebody else's name has been announced as the candidate from my ward," Singh added.
The BJP said on Sunday that Singh would be replaced by Tashi Dorjee Lama.
Roy Choudhury, when asked about Singh's bribe allegation, said: "These are baseless charges. The person concerned has not been given a party ticket for the SMC polls, which is why he is raising such wild allegations."
He said the party would take steps against him.
When Roy Choudhury was reminded that the first BJP list did contain Singh's name and he was removed later, he said: "That is why he is making the allegations."
Several times today, BJP workers held protests against the selection of candidates.
Around 30-odd party workers and supporters from wards 22, 35 and 40 demonstrated in front of Bose's house.
The protests continued for a couple of hours.
"Candidates have been selected without consulting party workers and leaders of our wards. Either these candidates have bad records or are not known to people. We want the party leaders to think and change these candidates," one of the protesters said.
In the evening, Bose said: "Today, we have changed candidates in two wards -14 and 18." Jaya Mukherjee would be replaced by Dalia Mukherjee in ward 14, and Md. Mukhtar will be the new candidate in ward 18 instead of Nripen Das.
Ashim Kar, a CPM dissident in Siliguri, has filed his nomination as an Independent as the party did not nominate him from ward 26.
Alam Khan, known as a Trinamul activist in ward 6, tried to file his nomination as an Independent but failed on technical grounds.