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Thursday, June 24, 2021

Clamour for imposing President’s Rule in Bengal grows in BJP, but party is divided

Though both Suvendu and Barrackpore MP Arjun Singh referred to Article 356 (President’s Rule) in their comments to the media, the party seemed divided on the issue. Their party colleague Rajib Banerjee, who had switched over from the Trinamool Congress (TMC) before the Assembly polls, took to Facebook to air his views and criticised the calls for President’s Rule in Bengal.

Written by Santanu Chowdhury | Kolkata |
Updated: June 9, 2021 6:15:22 am
Earlier in the day, after meeting Amit Shah, Adhikari told reporters in New Delhi, “We have to wait and see [about President’s Rule]. I have apprised the Home Minister about the situation. The situation is worse than Article 356.” (File)

As West Bengal’s Leader of the Opposition in Assembly Suvendu Adhikari met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi on Tuesday, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said here that the party would apprise President Ram Nath Kovind of the “deteriorating law-and-order situation” in the state.

Though both Suvendu and Barrackpore MP Arjun Singh referred to Article 356 (President’s Rule) in their comments to the media, the party seemed divided on the issue. Their party colleague Rajib Banerjee, who had switched over from the Trinamool Congress (TMC) before the Assembly polls, took to Facebook to air his views and criticised the calls for President’s Rule in Bengal. Notably, Banerjee and BJP national vice-president Mukul Roy were also conspicuous by their absence at the party meeting in Kolkata called by state BJP chief.

After the meeting, Dilip Ghosh told reporters, “The post-poll violence is going on unabated in Bengal. More than 25,000 of our workers were forced to flee their homes. Overall, about 40 of our workers have been killed in the post-poll violence. We have submitted reports of this violence to Union Home Minister Amit Shah. We will also apprise the President of this situation. Due to the Covid-19 situation, we cannot meet him now. But once the situation gets better we will meet him.”

He announced the party would hit the streets from June 23 to protest against the violence.

Earlier in the day, after meeting Amit Shah, Adhikari told reporters in New Delhi, “We have to wait and see [about President’s Rule]. I have apprised the Home Minister about the situation. The situation is worse than Article 356.”

Arjun Singh, who attended the organisational meeting in Kolkata, was unequivocal in his demand for President’s Rule, saying Article 356 was required to save the people of Bengal. “We have the right to self-defence. For this purpose, there is a need to impose Article 356. There is no other way. We are telling the Centre to impose Article 356 otherwise the people cannot be saved,” he added.

Disagreeing with his colleagues, Rajib Banerjee wrote on Facebook that the people of Bengal would not support the demand for President’s Rule. He added, “We have indulged in criticism a lot. If we continue to criticise an elected government and the chief minister at the drop of a hat and talk about the Centre and Article 356 then the people of Bengal will cease to support us. At present, we have to rise above politics and stand by the people affected by Covid and Cyclone Yaas.”

Apart from Banerjee, the other notable absence at the BJP meeting here was Mukul Roy. Sources said Roy was not aware of the meeting and was asked to attend it at the last minute. A senior party leader, however, said Roy was not present as he was recovering from Covid-19 and was also busy taking care of his wife after her bout with the disease.

Meanwhile, the TMC criticised BJP leaders’ comments on Article 356. Senior leader and MP Saugata Roy said, “They are speaking like fools. A government has not even completed two months in the government and they are talking about Article 356. There is no deterioration of the law-and-order situation here. They should stop making such statements.”

The ruling party’s spokesperson and state general secretary Kunal Ghosh said, “They are staging a drama now. Their workers and leaders gave provocations to the people during elections. Now they are facing the backlash. Dilip Ghosh is facing protests from his party workers and leaders wherever he is going. Our leaders on the other hand have ensured that there is no violence in the state. They [BJP] have been defeated in the election and now trying to come to power through a backdoor.”

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