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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 17 April 2024

Over 100 BJP old-timers from several districts agitate in front of party's state headquarters on Thursday

Agitation exposed how saffron camp was split between newcomers and veterans before 2024 Lok Sabha polls

Snehamoy Chakraborty Calcutta Published 14.10.23, 05:08 AM
Protesting BJP workers march to the state party headquarters in Calcutta on Thursday

Protesting BJP workers march to the state party headquarters in Calcutta on Thursday Stock Photographer

Over 100 BJP old-timers from several districts on Thursday agitated in front of the party's state headquarters at 6, Murlidhar Lane here, accusing a section of top leadership of sidelining those who played a crucial role in the party winning 18 Lok Sabha seats from Bengal in 2019.

Thursday's protest, which came a day after a different set of BJP workers from North 24-Parganas agitated in the party's Salt Lake office, exposed how the saffron camp was split between newcomers and veterans before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, multiple sources in the party admitted.

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The agitation at two major party offices on two consecutive days assumes significance as Union home minister Amit Shah is scheduled to visit Calcutta on Monday to inaugurate a Durga Puja. Shah has set a target for Bengal BJP leaders to secure 35 out of 42 Lok Sabha seats in 2024.

Agitating BJP workers on Thursday assembled in front of the party's 6, Murlidhar Lane office, under the banner of Save West Bengal BJP, with pictures of several party office-bearers, accusing them of playing a role that would invite another electoral failure for the party in 2024.

"We don't want a repetition of the 2021 Assembly elections in 2024 (general elections). The current office-bearers of the party had sidelined those who actually worked for the party in 2019 to help the party win 18 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal and gave responsibilities to those who are hand in glove with Trinamul," said one of the protesters.

Anil Singh, a BJP leader from Birbhum who took part in Thursday's protest, said if party leaders did not change their policy, the BJP would face the same embarrassment that it did in the 2021 Assembly polls.

"The present set of leaders is so desperate that they even ignore veteran leaders of the party like Dilip Ghosh and Rahul Sinha. We, who have worked for the party on the ground, have faced the same treatment in our district, too," said Singh.

Former BJP state president Dilip Ghosh on Thursday told reporters that the protests were erupting as some party leaders did not listen to party workers properly.

"The leaders should listen to all. I think if any protest has taken place, it is because the leaders did not listen to the protestors," Ghosh told reporters.

The rift between the old-timers and newcomers is not a new phenomenon in the Bengal BJP. Senior leaders from Delhi on multiple occasions alerted the party leaders to coordinate properly with party workers, new and old.

Trinamul did not lose the opportunity to highlight the BJP's poor state of organisation in Bengal ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

"@BJP4Bengal faces a rift as workers revolt against the inept leadership! @DrSukantaBJP and @mp_jagannath are being outright rejected by their own ranks. These so-called leaders can't even manage their workers, yet they dream of governing Bengal? Ridiculous!" the state industry minister Sashi Panja wrote on her X handle.

The BJP tried to downplay the incident but admitted it was unwarranted.

"It was unexpected for the party to witness a protest in such a manner. Anyone having grievances could have approached leaders in a proper way. Our leaders will enquire why such an agitation took place and take the required measures," said state BJP chief spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya.

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