regular-article-logo Tuesday, 06 June 2023

JP Nadda pep talks beleaguered Bengal unit

5 BJP MPs, several MLAs stay away from national party president’s meeting

Arkamoy Datta Majumdar Calcutta Published 09.06.22, 01:48 AM
JP Nadda at the Rashbehari Research Institute in Hooghly’s Chandernagore on Wednesday.

JP Nadda at the Rashbehari Research Institute in Hooghly’s Chandernagore on Wednesday. Amit Kumar Karmakar

BJP’s national chief J.P. Nadda tried to cheer up the party’s Bengal unit with a speech of over 40 minutes on Wednesday at a party meeting in Calcutta, but five MPs, including three Union ministers, and several MLAs stayed away.

Nadda was addressing the state unit’s executive committee meeting — a first since Sukanta Majumdar took over as the state chief and reshuffled the entire organisation —at the National Library.


Union ministers John Barla, Subhash Sarkar and Shantanu Thakur were absent as were MPs S.S. Ahluwalia and Kunar Hembram. Some MLAs and state vice-president Raju Banerjee stayed away.

Hembram and Barla didn’t take calls from this correspondent. Sarkar said he had a meeting at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Wednesday but would attend Thursday’s meeting.

Ahluwalia said he had written to the party leadership of his inability to attend the meeting. “I’m out for some family issues,” he said.

Thakur said that he was in Odisha attending a pre-scheduled event. On if he had told the state leadership, said: “No I’ve not informed anybody.”

Sources in the party said Thakur’s attitude hinted that everything wasn’t right between him and the party. He has publicly criticised state general secretary (organization) Amitava Chakraborty and it is a known fact that he isn’t on good terms with the state leadership.

Banerjee, who by virtue of his post, was meant to be present at the meeting said he didn’t even know about Wednesday’s meeting.

“I’m outside and don’t know about any meeting. I’ve written to the central and state leaderships about this,” Banerjee said. Sources close to him said that Banerjee has written to Nadda, Majumdar, national vice-president Dilip Ghosh and leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari.

Banerjee has been in constant touch with the league of dissidents led by Thakur, who wanted Chakraborty’s ouster.

Many leaders present at Wednesday’s meeting secretly expressed discontent over Nadda’s speech. They pointed out that the absence of key leaders from the meeting only proves how divided a house Bengal BJP is. Nadda, according to these leaders, spent not a word on addressing the key issues.

“Inner feuds, electoral devastation, organisational inabilities and exodus of public representatives are our main problems. But the national president kept his speech limited to criticism of Mamata Banerjee and didn’t offer us concrete guidance,” a state office-bearer said.

Nadda asked his colleagues to have faith in themselves and believe BJP will come to power in Bengal. He listed out the schemes of the Union government and how they have been renamed by the Bengal administration.

“It is your job to go out to people and say these are all central schemes,” Nadda said. “Have faith in yourself and one day we will democratically remove this government.”

The BJP chief’s car faced a small agitation by his own party workers while he was entering the National Library premises.

The agitators were party old-timers who believe that the state unit is “crumbling” under Chakraborty.

Earlier in the day, Nadda could not enter the party’s Hooghly district office because there was no one to unlock the office for him. Sources said Nadda’s visit to the Hooghly office was unscheduled. Suresh Shaw, a general secretary of the party’s Hooghly unit, however, said that Nadda’s convoy did not approach the party office.

BJP's national general secretary (organisation) B.L. Santhosh held a separate meeting of the state executive.

Santhosh asked his colleagues to not pay much heed to recent defections, sources said.

Mihir Goswami, the Cooch Behar South MLA, has proposed amendment to the economic proposal adopted by the party on Wednesday. He has urged that the demand to allot the entire North Bengal a special economic status be included in the proposal.

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