Dilip Ghosh Speaks Out As BJP’s Bengal Setback Prompts Attacks From Within

Dilip Ghosh Speaks Out As BJP's Bengal Setback Prompts Attacks From Within

The BJP has been reduced to 12 seats in West Bengal in the Lok Sabha polls.


The second successive setback for the BJP in West Bengal has exposed fissures within the state unit, with a former president hitting out at the local leadership and pointing out flaws in the way the campaign was run.

Former West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh, who was at the helm when the party shocked the Trinamool Congress by winning 18 of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats in 2019, fired the first volley on Thursday when he quoted former Prime Minister, and one of the party’s most revered figures, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in a post on X. 

“Keep one thing in mind: even one old Karyakarta of the party should not be neglected. If necessary, let ten new Karyakartas be separated. Because the old workers are the guarantee of our victory. Trusting new Karyakartas too quickly is not advisable – Atal Bihari Vajpayee,” Mr Ghosh wrote.

While the former state BJP president did not name anybody, the post was widely seen as hinting at Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly, Suvendu Adhikari, who had quit the Trinamool Congress and joined the BJP in 2020. While Sukanta Majumdar is the Bengal BJP chief now, Mr Adhikari was seen to be calling the shots as far as ticket distribution for the Lok Sabha polls was concerned.

The BJP was reduced to 12 seats in the elections and the constituencies the party lost included Medinipur, where Mr Ghosh was the sitting MP. Instead of being fielded from there again, the senior leader was made to contest from the Bardhaman-Durgapur seat, where he lost to the Trinamool’s Kirti Azad by a margin of over 1.37 lakh votes. Mr Ghosh’s replacement for the Medinipur constituency, Agnimitra Paul, was also defeated.

This prompted another attack from Mr Ghosh on Friday. “For over a year, I have spent all my time and money in Medinipur. But I wasn’t allowed to contest from there. The result in both seats (Medinipur and Bardhaman-Durgapur) is for all to see,” he said in Bengali.

Implying that he had strengthened the party at a time when it did not have much of a standing in Bengal, Mr Ghosh added, “This time, votes in Bengal were sought in the name of PM Narendra Modi, we have a stronger organisation, and so many leaders have joined the party. In 2021 (Bengal Assembly polls), we didn’t have so many people and in 2019 (Lok Sabha polls) there was nobody, I went around campaigning and there were central leaders.”

“This time, PM Modi went practically everywhere. We have so many MLAs and MPs now, why did the results turn out the way they did,” he asked.

Mr Ghosh also pointed to former Union minister Debasree Choudhury being asked to contest from the Kolkata Dakshin seat instead of Raiganj, which she had won in 2019. This was seen by many as the BJP leader suggesting that the old guard in the party was being sidelined by new entrants like Mr Adhikari. 

The just-concluded Lok Sabha election is the second time the BJP has fallen way short of its own expectations since its astounding performance in 2019. During the 2021 Assembly polls, the party had set itself a target of winning 200 of the state’s 294 constituencies, but had ended up with only 77.

‘Leaders Self-Centred’

For the Trinamool Congress, which has gone up from 22 Lok Sabha seats to 29, Mr Ghosh’s remarks provided a welcome opportunity to hit out at the BJP.

“The BJP’s Bengal leadership is a tragedy. The leaders are self-centred. They do not care about the people. The BJP had 18 MPs and they did nothing for the people of their constituencies. People understand that it is all political,” said Saayoni Ghosh, Trinamool Congress leader and the newly elected MP from Jadavpur.

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