The BJP’s losses in three bypolls in West Bengal appeared to expose infighting within the state unit, with some leaders on Friday pointing to the “scare” over the issue of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) as a reason for their failure.
On Thursday, the ruling TMC won all three Assembly bypolls by wresting the Kharagpur Sadar and Kaliaganj seats from the BJP and Congress respectively, while retaining the Karimpur seat.
Calling it a mandate against the NRC, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said it was a vote against the BJP’s “arrogance”.
On Friday, BJP state vice-president Chandra Kumar Bose said it was time for the party to devise a state-specific plan, as a pan-Indian strategy would not apply to the “land of Vivekananda and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose”.
Speaking to reporters, Bose, who is Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s grandnephew, said that the NRC should not have featured as the poll plank during campaigning for bypolls.
“Since 1985, NRC was primarily concerned with the people of Assam. NRC was never considered for West Bengal. Union Home Minister Amit Shah had clearly said that first Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) will be tabled in Lok Sabha and after implementing CAB, there will be discussions on NRC. So there was no need for our party to campaign on NRC during bypolls,” Bose said.
“There were other issues which people want the BJP to address. People want to know whether we will bring industries in Bengal… People here want to give the BJP an opportunity to run the government and we have to take it,” he said.
Two of the BJP candidates in the bypolls blamed the NRC “scare” for their losses, and said the party had failed to explain the issue to the people. Union minister and BJP leader Babul Supriyo too said the party was unable to explain to the people what the NRC and CAB are.
BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha slammed Bose for expressing his views in public. “If any leader has any special views and opinions regarding the party’s functioning, policy, strategies and campaigning, then he should express it within party forum. There is no point saying it in public,” he said.