Cracks in Bengal BJP widen as 2 former vice-presidents are charged with indiscipline

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Cracks in Bengal BJP widen as 2 former vice-presidents are charged with indiscipline
© Provided by Hindustan Times Dissidence in the BJP has emerged even in Purulia and Bankura districts where the party performed well in the panchayat, Lok Sabha and assembly polls in 2015, 2019 and 2021 respectively. (HT PHOTO.)

Fissures in the West Bengal unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) got wider on Sunday afternoon when the leadership issued show-cause letters to two of its former state vice-presidents, charging them with making statements against the party.

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The two leaders, Jay Prakash Majumdar and Ritesh Tiwari, were dropped from the state committee on December 22 when the Bengal unit announced the names of 11 new vice-presidents, five general secretaries, 42 organizational district unit presidents, 12 state secretaries, the new morcha (front) presidents and the heads of several cells.

The rejig made not just some veterans, who were left out, unhappy but also left leaders from the Dalit Matua community, headed by Union minister of state Shantanu Thakur, upset. The dissidents have united under Thakur’s leadership.

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“I will continue to lead every dissident. Can the state leadership take disciplinary action against all of them?” Thakur, who has demanded the removal of Bengal general secretary (organisation) Amitava Chakraborty, holding him responsible for the crucial organizational changes, said after the show-cause letters were issued.

Old-timers such as Pratap Banerjee, Biswapriyo Roy Chowdhury, Union minister of state Dr Subhas Sarkar, Raj Kamal Pathak and Debasish Mitra were also dropped from the panel of vice-presidents. Jay Prakash Majumdar was made a spokesperson while the others were left with no portfolio. A known hardliner, general secretary Sayantan Basu, was dropped as well. Most of these leaders left the Bengal BJP’s WhatsApp groups.

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Following some protests, Bengal BJP president Sukanta Majumdar dissolved the cells and departments on January 13 but that did not change the scenario.

“Information about the show-cause letters were given to the media on Saturday night and when the letters were issued on Sunday, the media got the copies before the intended recipients. This poses a serious question on who should be held responsible for breaching party discipline. I have never made any public statement against the party. My reply will reach the leadership in due time,” Majumdar told HT.

Tiwari said: “The letter I received shows how ignorant the current office-bearers are. It was issued by an office secretary who wrote that he had been directed to do so by the state president. The letter does not mention when and how I breached discipline, under which section of the party’s rules the action was taken and what is the deadline for sending my reply.”

“This is a conspiracy by those who became leaders after 2019. They represent the tatkal (instant) BJP. They neither have any base in the organization, nor followers on the streets. They can’t even organise a procession. I am in the party for 32 years. I will give my reply in an appropriate manner,” Tiwari told HT.

Senior state BJP leaders said that Shantanu Thakur held a meeting with Majumdar and the other dissidents for more than two hours on Sunday evening. During the day he also held a meeting with Matua community leaders in his Bongaon Lok Sabha constituency where a picnic was also held. This was the second picnic Thakur held in less than 10 days.

The dissident camp got agitated because neither Majumdar nor Tiwari had made any anti-BJP statement before the media on January 15 when Thakur held his first press conference with the dissidents at the Kolkata Port Trust guest house in the state capital. The duo remained silent even on January 16 when Thakur held his first picnic with the disgruntled leaders.

Dissidence in the BJP has emerged even in Purulia and Bankura districts where the party performed well in the panchayat, Lok Sabha and assembly polls in 2015, 2019 and 2021 respectively. The central leadership in Delhi has been informed about the rumblings.

Refusing to speak on the show-cause letters, Bengal BJP’s chief spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said, “I am not aware of the details. This is an internal matter of the party.”

The involvement of a Union minster has made the dissidence a serious issue for the party, some veteran Bengal BJP leaders said.

Thakur said earlier this week that implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is the principal demand of the Matuas and they want to discuss it with BJP central leaders and Union home minister Amit Shah.

Subrata Thakur, the minister’s brother, is the legislator from Gaighata in North 24 Parganas. Shantanu Thakur and four legislators left all WhatsApp groups of the West Bengal BJP on January 4.

The Centre has said that it is in the process of framing laws for the CAA which the Parliament passed in 2020.

The law offers citizenship to non-Muslims who entered India from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh before 2015. The Matuas are a part of the large Dalit Namasudra community that migrated from East Pakistan (Now Bangladesh) during India’s partition in 1947 and the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War to escape religious persecution.

The TMC insists that the law is unconstitutional as it links citizenship to faith in a secular country.

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