The BJP’s protest march in Kolkata and Howrah that witnessed clashes with police on Thursday has unravelled the infighting in the party ahead of the Assembly elections that are less than six months away.
Initially, it was planned that BJP MP from Barrackpore Arjun Singh would accompany state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh in the protest march from the party’s headquarter in Burrabazar area.
The party had planned simultaneous protest marches to Nabanna, the state secretariat, from four different locations – Burrabazar, Hastings, Central Avenue and Santragachi.
However, Singh, who was earlier with the Trinamool Congress, reached Hastings instead of Burrabazar along with his supporters. The protest there was being led by Mukul Roy, another former Trinamool leader, who was recently made the national vice-president of the BJP.
Two former Trinamool leaders – Shankudev Panda, Sabyasachi Dutta – accompanied Roy besides two central leaders who had come from Delhi – Arvind Menon and BJP general secretary in charge of Bengal unit Kailash Vijayvargiya.
Newly appointed chief of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha and BJP MP from Karnataka, Tejasvi Surya, was at Howrah Maidan where the rally was being led by MP and former TMC leader Soumitra Khan.
As a result, Dilip Ghosh was the only senior leader to lead the protest march from the party’s headquarter near Howrah Bridge.
Notably, senior party leader Rahul Sinha , who was recently removed as the party’s national general secretary, was conspicuous by his absence from the protest march, which was the biggest protest programme of the party in more than a year.
According to sources in the party, this was for the first time that Sinha had skipped a state-level protest programme of the party. Sinha, who declined to comment on his absence, only said that he was at home. He, however, posted a few tweets slamming the Trinamool government for police action on BJP protesters.
A fortnight ago, Sinha had expressed his unhappiness after he was dropped from the BJP’s national team. “For 40 years, I have served the BJP. I have always been a soldier of the party since its inception. And today, I have to leave my post because a Trinamool Congress leader is coming. There can be nothing more unfortunate than this… Is this the reward?” Sinha had tweeted and had announced to take a decision on whether he would stay in the party or quit in the next 10-12 days.
“Rahul Sinha is yet to take a decision whether he will quit the party. He also wants to talk with the central leadership once, and after that, he would take further decision. But, this was the first time in 40 years he skipped a BJP programme,” a senior BJP leader said. Sources said that the Bengal unit of the BJP is currently divided into three factions – one led by Dilip Ghosh and backed by the RSS, the second group comprising Trinamool turncoats led by Mukul Roy, and the third: the old guard comprising the likes of Rahul Sinha and others who feel that the party is being taken over by former Trinamool leaders.
There were murmurs of Roy returning to the Trinamool fold, after which he was promoted and made national vice-president of the BJP. But this has proved counter-productive ahead of the Assembly elections as many BJP leaders are unhappy with the decision to give more responsibility to former Trinamool leaders, sources said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines