The faction-ridden West Bengal BJP unit, hit by exodus of a series of leaders who had switched allegiance from TMC before the Assembly polls this summer, got a new president on Monday, with party’s national president J P Nadda appointing Sukanta Majumdar, MP from Balurghat Lok Sabha constituency, in the post.
Outgoing state chief Dilip Ghosh, also a Lok Sabha MP, who led the party in the state elections, will now be a national vice-president, a post earlier held by Mukul Roy.
Roy had returned to the Trinamool after the elections.
The national leadership also appointed Baby Rani Maurya, recently removed as Uttarakhand Governor, as a party national vice-president.
According to sources in BJP, Ghosh’s removal as state unit chief was imminent since the party’s defeat in high-stakes state elections. Mamata Banerjee returned to power for the third time with an overwhelming majority in an election that saw an aggressive campaign led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.
In the 294-member Assembly, BJP won 77 seats — its highest ever in the state — but that number is already down to 71 due to exodus of legislators to Trinamool Congress.
Sources said the BJP central leadership has not been happy with the way Ghosh has handled the party since the polls. But a senior party leader said Ghosh, appointed Bengal BJP president in November 2015, was removed since he will complete two terms in that post in November. “The delay was because the party leadership took time to finalise his successor,” a BJP leader said.
Majumdar on Monday told the media, “I want to strengthen the party and its organisation. I want to take it forward from where Dilip Ghosh left it. He is one of the most successful state presidents of BJP.”
Agreeing that he is taking charge at a “challenging time”, Majumdar said, “I feel that our booth-level workers and supporters are crucial. MLAs are important, too, but none of our workers and supporters have left us.”
According to sources, the party is focusing on north Bengal after it fared better in the region in the polls compared to south Bengal. “While Leader of Opposition in Assembly Suvendu Adhikari is from south Bengal, the new state president is from north Bengal. The party is maintaining a balance,” a senior leader said.
“Besides, Majumdar is from RSS and has a good working relationship with everyone,” the party leader said. “The party is also going back to the basics with this appointment and sending a message of puritanism.”