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‘Syndicate of 5-6 newcomers’: Bengal BJP leader’s letter to Nadda exposes divide in state unit

Letter by former state general secretary Sayantan Basu comes ahead of BJP's preparation for panchayat polls. Senior leader Dilip Ghosh claims 'suggestions' are welcomed in party.

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Kolkata: The Bharatiya Janata Party in West Bengal is now a “syndicate” of newcomers and a “perception” prevails that some turncoats switched allegiance only to evade probe by central agencies, senior BJP leader Sayantan Basu has written to party president J. P. Nadda.

“The party is very much active only on social media. The party which has been built in my state by lakhs of karyakartas between 1980s and 2019 has now become a syndicate of 5-6 handful newcomers who joined the party in 2019 or 2020,” Basu wrote in what is being construed as  a veiled attack on Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari.

The BJP former state general secretary, who was one of the key faces of Bengal BJP, was dropped from the state committee after Sukanta Majumdar took charge in 2021.

“The way opposition leaders and Leader of Opposition attacks the TMC, it’s a wrangling match between two factions of the TMC. It’s public perception that some turncoats joined the BJP to protect themselves from ED and CBI probes,” reads the one-page letter that surfaced on Friday evening.

The letter also highlighted the rise of Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) after the 2021 Bengal polls. “Trinamool is losing ground and CPI-M is cashing in on the anti-incumbency, not BJP,” Basu wrote, claiming only core “national issues” can put BJP back on track.

Once seen regularly at the BJP state headquarters addressing press conferences, Basu has been absent from key events of the party. After the organisational overhaul last year, Basu reportedly quit the BJP’s WhatsApp group. In December, the disgruntled leader had met Trinamool Congress leader Samir Chakraborty in Kolkata leading to a speculation about his future in the BJP..

“I have been associated with the BJP for 22-years, and I understand the state politics. It’s my duty to write to party leaders and bring to their notice different issues. I have written several letters for months now. And I urge the leaders that we need to repeat our 2019 results in Bengal,” Basu told ThePrint.

Also Read: Bengal assembly passes resolution against CBI & ED, says TMC leaders ‘selectively targeted’

Poll debacle triggered internal bickering?

After the BJP won 18 out of 42 seats in the Lok Sabha elections from Bengal in 2019, the party was certain to continue its winning streak in the 2021 Assembly elections. But the party was in for a shock as it could win just 77 out of the 292 assembly seats. The ruling TMC coasted to a third term with a landslide win by cornering 213 seats. Worse, the BJP is now left with 70 MLAs after five joined the TMC.

The poor show continued two months later as the BJP managed only 12.57 per cent of votes in the Bengal municipal polls. The BJP could not win in even one of the 108 civic bodies. Bengal is set for the panchayat elections in early 2023, which will be a litmus test for both BJP and TMC ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh sought to downplay the speculation of internal feud in the state unit. “Sayantan Basu is one of our senior leaders. Anyone can write letters, and suggestions are always welcome in our party. But 2019 was a different time and the current situation is different, so we needed to evolve back then. We didn’t have so many MLAs in the state [back then] like now,” the former BJP unit chief told ThePrint.

But a senior TMC leader, who was earlier with the BJP,  latched on to the row, saying the contents of the letter were not misplaced. “Sayantan has written a factually and politically correct letter. But the BJP central leadership is hardly willing to change its course of action. BJP has been taken over by newcomers. Suvendu Adhikari who was a Trinamool Minister is now the BJP’s biggest face in the state,” TMC leader Joy Prakash Majumdar told ThePrint.

Majumdar, a former BJP vice-president, who was suspended for “anti-party activities”, had joined the TMC in March. He was appointed the TMC vice-president after he switched his allegiance to the ruling party.

(Edited by Tony Rai)

Also Read: BJP picks a woman, a non-Brahmin, to perform its Durga Puja in Bengal. What’s the message?


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