In political wilderness after being expelled from the CPM, Lakshman Seth, former MP and alleged mastermind of the Nandigram violence of 2007, is now planning to join BJP. Sources said Seth has met party state president Dilip Ghosh at least twice recently, expressing his willingness to do so. His earlier attempts had been thwarted by then state unit chief Rahul Sinha, who had refused to meet him.
“Initially, he had set a condition that he would use his supporters and money power to help BJP gain ground in East Midnapore district if the party gave him the ticket to contest bypolls to Tamluk Lok Sabha seat. But he later agreed to join the party even without any such assurance,” said a source in the state BJP. The bypoll to Tamluk Lok Sabha seat was necessitated by TMC MP Suvendu Adhikari’s resignation from Parliament after he won the Assembly polls from Nandigram and became a minister in the state government.
Seth was expelled from the CPM in March 2014 for “anti-party activities and making attempts to lower the party’s image before the masses”. A day before he was given the boot, he had praised Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. In August that year, he had formed the Bharat Nirman Party (BNP).
Party insiders said the state BJP leadership was divided on Seth’s induction. However, sources close to the party state president said he intended to use Seth’s influence to make inroads in East Midnapore, which had been the stronghold of TMC thanks to Adhikari.
At a programme on Sunday, BJP Rajya Sabha MP George Baker referred to the possible induction of Seth, saying, “Ours is a big family and there is room for everyone. All are welcome. Even if Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee or former Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee want to join the BJP, they would be welcome.” Asked if Seth’s induction would affect the party’s image, he said, “The image of the party which he belonged to earlier was bad. If he has left that party, he has left that image and has come out of it. Why would it affect BJP’s image?”
However, not every BJP leader was of the same opinion. Sources say many are unhappy with the decision. A senior state BJP leader, on condition of anonymity, said that bringing in Seth would be more harmful than advantageous to the party. “What does he have? He has lost all connect with the public, which was evident in the last Assembly election where he could hardly make any impression,” the senior BJP leader said. The leader went on to say that Seth intended to work as “Adhikari’s mole” in BJP and would only be working for TMC’s benefit. “The only image he has left is that of a terror-monger and a murderer. He would be a big liability to the party,” said the leader.
Former BJP state president Rahul Sinha said that no concrete decision had been taken so far regarding Seth. “The party’s core committee would take a final decision after a meeting. Any comment before that would be a premature one,” he said.