Updated: March 16, 2021 11:13:47 pm
For the third straight day, BJP workers staged protests at the BJP office in the Hasting area of Kolkata, demanding a change of candidates from several seats.
Party workers from Hooghly and South 24 Parganas districts who were at the forefront of the agitation said that they wanted new candidates to be named in Joynagar, Mathurapur, Cannine Paschim and several other constituencies. As they tried to break into the party office, policemen posted there used batons to disperse the agitators.
In an attempt to control the protest, senior party leaders Shiv Prakash, Arvind Menon and the state BJP leadership have been summoned by the central leadership to Delhi to attend an emergency meeting.
Meanwhile, former BJP state committee member Bhaskar Bhattacharya quit the BJP expressing his displeasure over selection of party candidates for the Assembly polls. Bhattacharya wrote a letter to West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh tendering his resignation.
“I have been associated with the BJP for about 21 years. This was my last chance to contest from either Champdani or Sreerampur seats. I am no less capable than those who have been made party candidates from these seats. However, the party made me feel undeserving by not making me a candidate. Therefore, I cannot hope anything more from this party and am relieving myself from all duties and responsibilities,” he wrote in his letter.
Another long-time party leader Raj Kamal Pathak, who is a former state committee member, also said he was retiring from politics over the same issue. “I have served this party with dedication for 30 years. The present situation is telling me to retire from politics,” wrote Pathak in a Facebook account. Earlier, former BJP Hooghly district president Subir Nag had also quit the party.
BJP party workers have protesting against almost every candidate who has been declared from constituencies falling under Hooghly district. They demanded a change of candidates in Singur, Chuchura, Uttarpara, Haripal, Chandannagar, Tarakeshwar, Champdani and Sreerampur.
Since the party announced its candidates for the third and fourth phase polling in West Bengal, protests have erupted across the state over selection of candidates.
On Monday, senior party leaders Shiv Prakash, Mukul Roy and Arjun Singh were heckled by a section of irate party workers who were demanding change of party candidates of several Assembly seats. Angry party workers even tried to break into the party office but were stopped by police.
The protests forced Union Home Minister Amit Shah to change his schedule as he flew down to Kolkata from Guwahati on Monday to hold talks with party leaders. He held an overnight meeting with state BJP leaders to find ways to quell the anger.
Sources said that the party is contemplating changing candidates in some seats. It was also learnt that West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh and party’s national vice-president Mukul Roy could contest the polls this time.
Ghosh had won 2016 Assembly polls from Kharagpur Sadar seat but had to resign after he won 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Medinipur constituency. This time, the party has made Bengali actor Hiran Chatterjee a candidate from Kharagpur Sadar. Sources said the may field Ghosh from one of the seats in Birbhum district.
On the other hand, Roy could be made a candidate from one of the seats in Nadia district.
Roy, who had unsuccessfully contested the 2001 Assembly polls, was made a Rajya Sabha MP by his former party Trinamool Congress which felt the veteran leader was more suited to working behind the scenes than directly contesting polls. This time, however, he could be asked to land in unchartered territory as the situation calls for it.