‘North-South’ rift proving to be costly for West Bengal BJP

<br>The tweet from Basu read: “Suppressing a serious disease will not cure it; instead, it may hasten death! It began with the money-women syndrome. There was no course correction even after the disastrous results in assembly and corporation elections. The West Bengal BJP is hurtling towards death!”

That the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Bengal is moving towards a slow but inevitable death might be an overstatement but the sharp divide between the leaders of North Bengal and that of South Bengal that is becoming prominent with each passing day might turn out to be expensive for the party.

On Saturday, Union Minister of State for Port, Shipping and Waterways Shantanu Thakur had a meeting with the disgruntled BJP leaders of the state including two MLAs Subrata Thakur and Ashoke Kirtaniya and Sayantan Basu who has recently lost the post of state general secretary. Sources in the party said Joy Prakash Majumdar, one of the prominent faces in the Bengal BJP who has been demoted to a spokesperson from the party’s state unit vice-president, was also present in the meeting. Apart from that three prominent leaders of the state BJP Ritesh Tiwari, Tushar Mukhopadhyay and Debashis Mitra joined the meeting.

The voices of resentment within the party were strongly felt when several members left the BJP WhatsApp group. The exodus of the BJP leaders started after five BJP MLAs who represented the Matua community left the BJP MLA WhatsApp group just a day before the All India Matua MahaSangha (AIMMS) announced to move away from the BJP and maintain a politically neutral stance.

Interestingly enough among the five Matua MLAs three — Shantanu Thakur, Subrata Thakur and Ashoke Kirtaniya — represent the Matua community. Shantanu who is very unhappy over the “lack of representation of Matua leaders” in the state and district committees of the party which was recently reconstituted had earlier said, “I will not like to comment on my leaving the WhatsApp group right now. Let the right time come, I will tell you the reason for my actions and my future plans.”

Not only these five but in the recent weeks nine BJP MLAs have left the party’s WhatsApp groups expressing their discontent over the new state committee formed by the party. Four MLAs from Bankura district — Amarnath Sakha, Dibakar Ghorami, Niladri Sekhar Dana and Nirmal Dhara — also left the party’s WhatsApp groups. Actor Hiran who is an MLA from Kharagpur, has also left the group recently.

The divide between the leaders of South Bengal and North Bengal became apparent when Union Minister of State John Barla, the MP from Alipurduar in North Bengal, raised a demand for the formation of a separate state or Union Territory comprising districts in north Bengal – from where he is elected.

Barla not only stuck to his demand but went on to meet the Governor to place his demands. Later Kurseong MLA Bishnu Prasad Sharma wrote a letter to BJP national president JP Nadda demanding statehood for North Bengal.

Though leaders from South Bengal were strongly against it terming it as Barla’s personal opinion but the MP from Alipurduar was neither cautioned or stopped from making this kind of separatist statement. This increased the cracks within the party which were further aggravated after Sukanata Majumdar who also represents North Bengal was made the party President removing Dilip Ghosh even before his term ended.

The divide reached the flash point when several prominent leaders like Sayanatan Basu and Joy Prakash Majumdar were removed from the decision-making body making it apparent that the top leadership was trying to give more representation to North Bengal that earned more seats for the party than that in South Bengal.

“There was a shuffle many times in the party but what is happening now is unprecedented. The state leadership has hardly any control over the MLAs and MPs of the state. They are giving statements according to their wish without any approval of the party. The party is hardly taking any action against them. The central leadership is also not worried about the whole thing. There is no discipline in the party which was unthinkable before. If this continues then it will be really difficult for the party to come out of this trouble,” a senior BJP leader told IANS on condition of anonymity.

–IANS <br>sbg/bg

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