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In removing Dilip Ghosh as Bengal unit chief, how BJP reached out to RSS and 'Bhadralok' in one swift move

·6 min read

It was the Bharatiya Janata Party's defeat in the 2021 Bengal Assembly election that sealed the fate of then Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh. Finally, the BJP has decided to relieve him of the post and has appointed Balurghar MP Sukanta Majumdar in his stead.

The last few months have not been great for the Bengal BJP, which has been riddled with infighting and factionalism ever since the party lost the bitterly-contested polls. Many turncoats, who had jumped ship before polls, have already left the BJP and returned to Mamata Banerjee-led All India Trinamool Congress.

Recently, former Union minister of state and MP Babul Supriyo also left the BJP and joined TMC after his ministerial berth was taken away in a Cabinet reshuffle. To stop this ongoing exodus, it was time for the party to bring in some organisational changes. By removing Ghosh, the central leadership has done just that while also sending out strong messages to many stakeholders with a single swift stroke.

The decision came just weeks before the Bhabanipur by-poll where the future of TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee will be decided as she had lost from Nandigram to her opponent and former confidante BJP leader Subhendu Adhikari.

Ghosh, meanwhile, has been made the national vice president, a post earlier held by Mukul Roy who has now moved back to the TMC.

Keeping BJP's organisational faith in RSS

Like many BJP office bearers, Dilip Ghosh too was an RSS man. However, his relationship with the RSS deteriorated over time. RSS had played a key role in strengthening the ground for BJP in Bengal over the last few years. But the party, under Ghosh, chose to overlook the Sangh's opposition to inducting TMC cadres indiscriminately just before the polls. All would have been well and forgiven had the party actually tipped results in its favour.

But with several turncoats losing the polls, and many others embarrassingly pleading with the TMC for a ghar vapasi, made it difficult for the party to justify the pre-poll expansion, a strategy now blamed on Ghosh.

Majumdar, on the other hand, is also a long-time RSS man. He is well-educated and a professor by profession. By choosing Majumdar, the central leadership of the BJP gave a clear message that from now on, views of the RSS will get priority when it comes to organisational decisions.

Placating growing dissent among old guards

The rift between the old and new guard in Bengal BJP has been widening and the most contentious topic in this internal war was also the induction of TMC cadres. Party loyalists believed that the BJP was trusting newcomers with important seats and organisational posts by neglecting those who had worked for organisation from the start.

The party veterans not only played a key role in the development of the grassroots connection of the party but they also hold a good relationship across a section of the Bengal voters. The old guard was opposing the idea of taking TMC turncoats in the party from the start, but their dissent was ignored at Ghosh's behest.

By appointing Majumdar, BJP has tried to signal that the views of the old guard will be valued and they will be rewarded for their contributions. The message is apparently well received as soon after Majumdar's appointment, former Bengal BJP chief and governor of Tripura Tathagata Roy extended a warm welcome to him. Roy has been one of Ghosh's biggest critics within the party and had been continuously pointing out his failure to keep the flock together.

Defining the limits for Suvendu Adhikari and other TMC turncoats

By appointing Majumdar as Bengal BJP chief, the Bharatiya Janata Party has also circumscribed the ambition of Leader of Opposition in Bengal Assembly and former TMC minister Suvendu Adhikari. After defeating Trinamool supremo and Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee from Nandigram, Adhikari was projecting himself as the undisputed leader of the Bengal BJP. However, the central leadership wanted to make it clear that when it comes to organisational posts, then the focus will be on the people or leaders who have proved their loyalty towards the ideology of the Sangh Parivar.

Majumdar is not only an RSS man but also had an affiliation with the ABVP when he was a student of the North Bengal University. He was with the ABVP when the ABVP had zero presence in Bengal. It is very clear now that whatever happens in the state, the party will never allow the TMC turncoats to run the organisation.

Urban voters could get more focus

There is no doubt that Dilip Ghosh was the key force behind the expansion of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Bengal. However, he was never quite accepted within the urban population of Bengal. His lifestyle, language and temperament were never accepted by the elite bhodrolok Bengalis. After this election, it has become very clear that this population has mostly voted for the TMC and outright rejected the BJP.

Traditionally, this population is liberal and left of Center when it comes to ideology. Now the BJP has realised that penetrating this population is very important.

With the appointment of Majumdar, who is a teacher by profession, the BJP believes that he can bring acceptance for the party within the urban parts of Bengal and most importantly in Kolkata. Several comments made by Ghosh such as suggesting Bengal CM to wear Bermuda or threatening the TMC supporters were never approved by any section of the Bengalis.

Focus on the North Bengal

Looking into the performance of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Bengal, it becomes clear that the party has performed the best in north Bengal. The central leadership of the BJP made Nisith Pramanik and John Barla both MPs from North Bengal, minister in the Modi government as a recognition of the fact that the party respects the mandate of North Bengal. Meanwhile, after the election, several BJP leaders including Barla voiced their opinion for a separate state for North Bengal. However, the state BJP leadership distanced themselves from the idea of dividing Bengal. On the ground the North Bengal BJP leaders are increasingly supporting this idea, therefore, the BJP believed that Majumdar who is also from North Bengal could be the best person to deal with the situation strategically.

The author is an independent journalist and former policy research fellow with Delhi Assembly Research Center who writes on policy and politics. Views are personal

Also See: BJP appoints Sukanta Majumdar to replace Dilip Ghosh as its West Bengal chief

Defections, infighting: Why Sukanta Majumdar is likely to have a hard time as BJP's West Bengal chief

Starting new innings with great motivation, want to be in playing 11, says Babul Supriyo

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