A section of the state BJP, who are demanding the removal of Bengal party president Rahul Sinha, on Tuesday claimed the central party leadership has assured them that a formal announcement in this regard will be made by December 15.
They also warned that if their demands were not met by then, leaders will demonstrate in front of the party headquarters on December 17.
The dissident leaders were supposed to hold a demonstration in front of the BJP headquarters on Tuesday, which was put off following the alleged assurance from the central leadership. “We had earlier said that we didn’t want Rahul Sinha as the state president and suggested that Dilip Ghosh be asked to replace him. The central leadership had assured us but did nothing… Thus, we had planned to hold a demonstration…”, said Subrata Mukherjee, vice-president of party’s north east Kolkata district unit.
“But last night, I received a call from the office of BJP national president Amit Shah. We were told that there will be a formal announcement by December 15… To show our respect for the leadership, we have called off our protest,” he added.
“We are doing this in the interest of the party. BJP had cashed in on the Modi wave in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls but failed to sustain the same…,” said Subhas Sarkar, state vice-president of the BJP’s Kisan Morcha cell.
For the last six months, confusion is prevailing over who would become the next state BJP president and when. Many names, including Rajya Sabha MP Chandan Mitra, have come up.
Doodh Kumar Mondal, former BJP district president of Birbhum, said: “We have been attacked (by alleged ruling party supporters) and have received no support from our party. Who would want to remain in BJP in such a situation? People are leaving and if the trend continues, our vote share in the 2016 elections will be at an all-time low.”
Another senior state leader said while the matter has been discussed by party’s Bengal in-charge Kailash Vijayvargiya, it might be too late to salvage the situation. “Kailashji said that in other states, he had prepared for elections in two months and pulled it off successfully. We failed to convince him that Bengal was a different case and the same formula might not work here,” he added.
When contacted, Vijayvargiya said: “If not mid-December, by end-December, there will definitely be a final announcement.”
Bengal so-convenor Suresh Pujari said as Sinha had completed his term in September, he would naturally be replaced. “The process (leadership change) is on countrywide… Bengal, Odisha and some northeast states are lagging behind. We are trying to expedite it… Whether or not Sinha will remain the state president will be clear by mid-December when an announcement is made by the central leadership,” he added.
Moreover, BJP’s constitution does not have a provision for the same person becoming the state president for the third time. Sinha has already served twice as the party chief of Bengal. “For him to remain, either the party constitution will have to be amended or the Assembly election dates should have been announced by now,” said a central BJP leader.