Not even a week since the BJP’s list of 17 candidates was announced, the party is already facing severe protests and dissension among its ranks against a major section of the candidates. The protests have escalated so much so that there have even been talks of a rethink on the candidates.
The seats where the party has faced revolt include Howrah (George Baker), Barasat (P C Sorcar), Dum Dum (Tapan Sikder), Malda North (Subhas Chandra Goswamy), Mathurapur (Tapan Nashkar), Diamond Harbour (Abhijit Das), to name a few. The bickering has reached such heights that having not figured in the first list, party state general secretary and an aspirant for either Barasat or Dum Dum seat, Shamik Bhattacharya, has quit the arena citing ill health.
“I am a loyal soldier of the party but thing is that Bengal is a politically-conscious state. When political issues are tackled in an apolitical manner I feel disheartened. I took part in so many agitations, got injured in police lathicharge and physical assault by goons of other parties. My commitment to the party is unquestionable but I wish it had been more careful in choosing party candidates,” Bhattacharya told The Indian Express.
Some leaders questioned the sagacity of choosing Tapan Sikder, who has not been in a very good health, for the Dum Dum seat. “Of course Tapanda was the best choice for Dum Dum, given the work that he had done for the constituency he had represented twice in Lok Sabha. But considering his age and state of health, we don’t know whether he will be able to bear the rigorous and strenuous campaign. He still insisted on contesting and the party central leadership agreed. It is pushing both him and the party towards a disaster,” a senior leader said.
The Barasat unit of the party was also quite unhappy over the choice of P C Sorcar, who angered the party cadre by praising Mamata Banerjee for her work in an interview just after he was selected for the seat.
BJP state president Rahul Sinha, however, said: “I have not heard of any revolt. There might have been some differences of opinion but that is natural in any political party. The BJP will win the elections and form the government. That is for sure.”
In the face of protests over the choice of actor George Baker, who can not even visit party offices, at Howrah, Sinha called Howrah district unit chief Tushar Das to sort out the matter.
Said Ashim Ghosh, former state unit president who is from Howrah: “I have received reports that there had been protests at various places in my district. But the thing is, in our party, once a candidate is selected by the leadership we rally behind him.”
When contacted George Baker said he had not yet heard of any dissension. “I will start attending rallies and meetings from Monday. The party has chosen me and I will try wholeheartedly. If I win I will eschew greasepaint for good and work for the people. But as you are telling me, if some people are against me let the party leadership replace me with another candidate and I myself will campaign for him,” the veteran actor said.
The party is facing dissension over the choice of candidates in constituencies like Malda Uttar, Mathurapur (South 24 Parganas) and Diamond Harbour (South 24 Parganas).