Former BJP West Bengal president Dilip Ghosh is busy these days fighting off suggestions that he is interested in joining the Trinamool Congress.
While the TMC is the one floating the claims, and Ghosh has been aggressively denying it, the BJP leader might be worried that some of the charges could stick.
A firebrand political leader known for his provocative speeches, Ghosh is known to be uncomfortable in the party since he was replaced with Sukanta Majumdar as the BJP state president in September last year.
The MP from Medinipur, Ghosh had got his loyalists to protest following his removal, and was appointed national vice-president as a placatory gesture. While on the surface things are fine between Ghosh and Majumdar since, tension has been simmering over changes in the state committee, with new members brought in to replace those close to Ghosh.
The TMC’s contention is that Ghosh first approached the party ahead of the 2021 Assembly polls, and then later, when the BJP fell far short of its expectations in the results.
TMC MP Saugata Roy said Wednesday: “After being cornered in his party, Ghosh was in touch with us. This happened before the election and afterwards. His future in the BJP looked uncertain and he was trying to join us. He made a similar attempt when he was removed as state BJP president too. But somehow, it did not materialise, as the party could not take a final decision.”
Senior CPM leader Sujan Chakraborty also latched on to the remarks. “We have been saying from the beginning that there is a tacit understanding between the TMC and BJP. They help each other, they exchange leaders. There is no credibility. If a person is with the TMC now, there is no guarantee he will not join the BJP later. The parties are two sides of the same coin,” he said.
Ghosh accused the TMC of making baseless comments. “Soon you will get to know who is going where, there is no need to speculate. Saugata Roy is not sure whether he will get a ticket from his party to contest in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. This is his trick to stay afloat in the TMC, which is going through a severe crisis,” he said.
A former RSS pracharak, Ghosh was one of the easy picks for the BJP in Bengal as it tried to make inroads in the state. He was made the general secretary of the state unit in 2015, and later the same year, as the West Bengal BJP president, replacing Rahul Sinha.
In the 2016 Assembly polls, Ghosh won from Kharagpur, and soon established himself as a firebrand leader, going toe-to-toe with the aggressive TMC. His speeches were often criticised for bordering on derogatory, but they also helped him strike a connect with the grass-roots. In 2018, he was appointed state president again.
The BJP’s surprise performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, winning 18 seats in the state, was credited to Ghosh’s efforts in rejuvenating party workers and establishing the organisation across the state.
It were the 2021 Assembly polls where the TMC dealt a resounding defeat to the BJP that boomeranged on Ghosh. The BJP had bet heavily on the leadership abilities of Ghosh as well as the firepower brought in from the TMC, such as Suvendu Adhikari and others.
Balurghat MP Sukanta Majumdar, who replaced Ghosh, meanwhile, has adopted an approach similar to his in targeting the TMC.
The BJP has rubbished the TMC’s claims regarding Ghosh, accusing it of trying to fish in troubled waters. “The TMC is in a crisis and that is why they are taking on our party leaders. There is no truth in anything Roy has said. If Ghosh had wanted to go (to the TMC), he would have done so,” said state BJP spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya.