Bengal BJP Leaders threaten to Opt for NOTA

The announcement of first list of candidates by BJP has led to severe discontent among its party leadership in sensitive West Bengal state. In several districts, the party leaders and workers have raised their objection to candidates chosen by the party national leadership. Strongly objecting national leadership’s selection of candidates, they accused that the seats were given to ‘political turncoats’ and not to the ‘true soldiers of the party’.

Ever since BJP has announced its first list on M State BJP president Dilip Ghosh has admitted that there is a rift among party leaders in some districts. He said, “Such situations are common during the announcement of candidates. We are not worried as we will try to resolve the matter by talks.”

In Cooch Behar, party workers threatened to press the ‘NOTA’ against ‘turncoat’ Nitish Pramanik. He left Trinamool Congress and joined the BJP in February this year.  District party leaders expressed discontent when the BJP decided to field Pramanik who has several criminal cases against him, despite having old-timers and dedicated party workers in Cooch Behar. The CBI in a letter issued on January 8, 2018, claimed that Pramanik is involved in human trafficking, illegal arms dealing and benami property dealings.

Pramanik and district BJP President Malati Rava have maintained that everything is under control, even though a party meeting resolution from March 21 attended by Rava highlighted disapproval over Pramanik’s candidature.

Similarly, in Bashirhat (in North 24-Parganas near Bangladesh border) posters were put up against Bengal BJP General Secretary Sayantan Basu. One of the posters near Chowk Bazar read “We Don’t Want Sayantan Basu.” Some of the political graffiti even went to say, “NOTA is better than Sayantan Basu,” “We want local candidate and not an outsider.”

BJP Bashirhat president Gopal Ghosh, however, rubbished news of any rift among the party workers in the district. He said, “We are proud to get Sayantan Basu as our candidate. These posters were put up by the Trinamool Congress as they are scared that their candidate Nusrat Jahan (filmstar) will be defeated with huge margin by us.”

In Bongaon – which is dominated by the Matua community – there is a strong demand for a local candidate and not for an outsider, so much so that posters had been put up warning the central leadership to be careful when announcing names of candidates.  Similar discontent was also felt in North Malda where posters of former CPI (M) leader Khagen Murmu were torn. Anti Murmu posters were also seen at several crowded places. “Murmu is power hungry and he switched sides because of power and ticket. Boycott Murmu and field party old-timers,” a poster read.

The major setback for the BJP was the resignation of party vice-president Raj Kamal Pathak on March 22 after he was denied a ticket for the Lok Sabha polls. “I have served the party for the last 28 years and never contested an election. In 2014, my name was suggested for Hooghly but later LK Advani ji suggested Chandan Mitra’s name and he got the ticket. Since Advani ji is a senior and respected member of the party, I happily accepted the decision. In 2009, my name was doing rounds for the candidate but our party president Satyabrata Mukherjee requested me not to contest as he was interested in contesting the election. Even then I made a sacrifice. But this time they have given the ticket to Locket Chatterjee. I felt humiliated and decided to quit from the post but not from the party,” Pathak said.

In Ranaghat constituency, BJP is yet to announce its candidate’s name but local leader Archana Majumdar has already started campaigning – going against the party line. Her supporters are demanding that she should get the ticket.

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