Picnic politics of rebel leaders keeping Bengal BJP on tenterhooks

On Sunday, when Joy Prakash Majumdar and Ritesh Tiwari were handed over the show cause letter for anti-party activities, the two rebel BJP leaders were in a picnic with Union Minister of state for Shipping Santanu Thakur at Gobardanga in North 24 Parganas.

Not only Tiwari or Majumdar but several other disgruntled leaders, both at the state level and the district level, gathered at the garden bungalow of Gobardanga BJP ‘Mondal’ President Ashis Bandopadhyay sending a strong indication that the discontent of a larger section of the lower and middle level leaders can’t be thwarted with a show cause or a suspension.

The things went so far that Thakur just after the show cause notice to the rebel leaders said, “I cannot say whom the party will send a show cause notice. I shall hold a meeting with anyone who comes to me. I shall speak with the agitated leaders of the state. Will the party expel all of them? Is it possible?”

The state BJP unit to put a leash on the increase of the rising voices against the leadership in the party, immediately suspended Majumdar and Tiwari without giving them time to reason their show cause. The show cause letter, however, had a mention that the party is giving them a 15 days’ time to reply.

This aggravated the situation further. Thakur who is considered to be the face of the movement immediately announced, “Being an MP and a minister it is my responsibility to speak to the people who are unhappy with the situation. I will speak to everyone who comes to me. There will be picnics in the Bongaon Parliamentary constituency. There will be picnics throughout the state. This is an effort to enthuse the BJP workers”.

Fuelling the controversy, Thakur even said, “I shall not say anything more. Whatever I had to say, I had said it before. Now I shall act and everyone will see it”. Thakur’s open challenge to the state leadership is not mere verbose but it is something more. There are indications that both Ritesh and Jayprakash and some other leaders were scheduled to attend a similar picnic organised by another dissident leader Manoj Mahato, in Purulia. The suspension had hardly any impact.

In Purulia where BJP won all three Lok Sabha seats and six out of nine Assembly seats in last year’s elections, five MLAs, including Narahari Mahato, Sudip Mukherjee and Kamala Kanta Hansda have written to the party’s central leadership expressing displeasure over the appointment of Vivek Ranga as the new district unit president.

In Bankura where BJP won both Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 general elections and seven out of the 12 Assembly seats in the 2021 polls, four party MLAs Nirmal Dhara, Niladri Sekhar Dana, Amarnath Shakha and Dibakar Gharami, have written to the party top brass in Delhi seeking immediate removal of Sonamukhi organisational district unit president Bileshwar Singha and Bankura unit organisational president Sunil Rudra Mondal.

In Birbhum Sheik Shamad, the party’s minority cell leader, has resigned. A Yuva Morcha youth leader in Paschim Medinipur has resigned and joined the Trinamool Congress last week along with several Morcha members. In Baruipur in South 24 Parganas, several lower rung leaders have switched over to Trinamool Congress.

Though the party leaders are not ready to say anything openly, several leaders who spoke to IANS on condition of anonymity said that the state unit is facing a serious organisational turmoil and if it is not controlled immediately it might create a negative impact of the party in the state.

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