The BJP has included five of its Bengal leaders in the party’s list of star campaigners for the Tripura bypolls in a bid to counter the Trinamul Congress and its national general-secretary Abhishek Banerjee’s aggressive campaign in the northeastern state, said sources in the saffron camp.
The BJP’s national vice-president Dilip Ghosh, Bengal chief Sukanta Majumdar, junior Union minister Nisith Pramanik, Hooghly MP Locket Chatterjee and former Rajya Sabha member Roopa Ganguly have been included in the list of the party’s 40 star campaigners.
Bypolls will be held to four Assembly seats on June 23. Chief minister Manik Saha is contesting from one of the seats.
Although flying in leaders from other states as star campaigners is considered normal in the BJP, picking these five from Bengal for Tripura was triggered by Abhishek’s campaign in the BJP-ruled state, said the sources.
“When leaders like Dilipda or Sukantada will address rallies in Tripura, you can rest assured that they would criticise Abhishek and his aunt (Mamata Banerjee) primarily. That is exactly why they have been asked to campaign on,” said a Bengal BJP office-bearer.
Sources in the saffron camp said the move was a proof that the BJP didn’t really disregard Trinamul’s prospects in Tripura, despite repeated public claims that Mamata’s party was irrelevant outside Bengal.
Abhishek was in Tripura on Tuesday, campaigning for the bypolls. According to estimates, around 2,500 people participated in the Agartala rally addressed by the Diamond Harbour MP.
“These numbers, by Tripura standards, aren’t really insignificant. Our leaders thought we needed to take it more seriously,” a BJP source claimed.
In the 2021 civic polls in Tripura, Trinamul was able to secure 16.39 per cent of votes, although it won only one of the 334 seats at 14 municipal bodies.
The BJP’s chief spokesperson in Bengal, Samik Bhattacharya, stood by his party’s public narrative that neither Trinamul nor Abhishek was a threat in Tripura.
“Our party follows this tradition of bringing in leaders from various states during polls. We want more Trinamul workers to go there so that Tripura’s tourism industry gets a boost,” Bhattacharya said, adding that the BJP would sweep the by-polls.
The Bengal Assembly on Thursday revoked the suspension of seven BJP MLAs, including Opposition leader Suvendu Adhikari and chief whip Manoj Tigga.
While Sudip Mukherjee and Mihir Goswami were suspended on March 9, Adhikari, Tigga, Shankar Ghosh, Narahari Mahato and Dipak Burman were suspended on March 28. All the seven were accused of creating ruckus in the House.
Adhikari had moved court against the suspension and was asked to resolve the matter within the House itself.
On Monday, BJP MLAs had moved a motion seeking the withdrawal of the suspension, which was rejected on technical grounds.
The suspended legislators had moved court again on Wednesday. However, they were advised to resubmit the motion to the House.
On Thursday, MLAs Agnimitra Paul, Tapasi Mandal, Bishal Lama, Sikha Chatterjee, Malati Rava Roy and Chandana Bauri moved separate motions to revoke the suspension. The motions were allowed at a meeting of the business advisory committee.