Like many members of the BJP board, Dilip Ghosh was also an RSS man. However, his relationship with RSS deteriorated over time.
New BJP national vice president Dilip Ghosh (right) with new party state chairman Sukanta Majumdar (left) during a congratulation at the BJP party office in Kolkata. PTI
It was the defeat of the Bharatiya Janata party in the 2021 Bengal Assembly elections that sealed the fate of then head of state unity, Dilip Ghosh. Finally, the BJP decided to relieve him of his functions and appointed in his place the deputy for Balurghat Sukanta Majumdar.
The past few months have not been great for Bengal BJP. It has been riddled with infighting and factionalism since the party lost the hotly contested ballots. Many defectors, who left the ship before the elections, have already left the BJP and returned to the All India Trinamool Congress party led by Mamata Banerjee.
Recently, former Union Minister of State and MP Babul Supriyo also left the BJP and joined TMC after his ministerial post was taken from him in a cabinet reshuffle. To stop this ongoing exodus, it was time for the party to make some organizational changes. By removing Ghosh, central management did just that while sending strong messages to many stakeholders in one fell swoop.
The decision came just weeks before the crucial poll in Bhabanipur, where Banerjee’s future hangs in the balance as she must win the seat to continue as chief minister. She had lost to Nandigram against her former confidante and now opposition leader Suvendu Adhikari.
Ghosh, meanwhile, was appointed National Vice President of BJP, a post previously held by Mukul Roy, who has now returned to TMC.
Favor the RSS point of view in terms of organization
Like many BJP leaders, Ghosh was also a man of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). However, his relationship with the RSS deteriorated over time. RSS has played a key role in strengthening the ground for BJP in Bengal in recent years. Under Ghosh, the party chose to ignore Sangh’s opposition to the indiscriminate enthronement of TMC cadres just before the elections. All would have been well and forgiven if this decision had worked in the polls.
But with several defectors losing the ballot boxes, and many more embarrassingly begging the TMC for a ghar vapasi, it has become difficult for the party to justify the expansion before the election, a strategy now blamed on Ghosh.
Majumdar, meanwhile, is also a longtime RSSman, with a doctorate in botany. By choosing Majumdar, the central leadership of the BJP sent the message that the views of the RSS will take precedence when it comes to organizational decisions.
Resolve the growing dissent among the old guards
The rift between the old and the new BJP Bengal Guard widened and the most controversial topic of this internal war was the enthronement of TMC members. Party supporters believed the BJP trusted newcomers with important seats and organizational positions by neglecting those who had worked for the organization from the start.
Party veterans have not only played a key role in developing the party’s popular connection, but they also draw on a cross-section of the Bengal electorate. The Old Guard opposed the idea of including TMC defectors in the party from the start, but their dissent was ignored at Ghosh’s request.
By nominating Majumdar, the BJP has attempted to signal that the views of the old guard will be appreciated and that they will be rewarded for their contributions. The message is apparently well received: shortly after Majumdar’s appointment, the former head of the BJP of Bengal and governor of Tripura Tathagata Roy gave him a warm welcome. Roy has been one of Ghosh’s biggest critics within the party and has consistently pointed out his failure to keep the herd together.
সাংসদ ডাঃ সুকান্ত মজুমদারকে বিজেপির কেন্দ্রীয় সভাপতি পশ্চিমবঙ্গ বিজেপির রাজ্য সভাপতি মনোনীত করেছেন।
অত্যন্ত সময়োচিত পদক্ষেপ। আগেকার এক রাজ্য সভাপতির তরফ থেকে নব-মনোনীত রাজ্য সভাপতিকে অভিনন্দন।
– Tathagata Roy (@ tathagata2) September 20, 2021
Set the limits for Suvendu Adhikari and other TMC defectors
By appointing Majumdar as head of the BJP of Bengal, the Bharatiya Janata Party has also circumscribed the ambition of the leader of the opposition in the Bengal Assembly and former TMC minister, Suvendu Adhikari. After defeating the Supreme Leader of Trinamool and the Chief Minister of Bengal of Nandigram, Adhikari presented himself as the undisputed leader of the BJP of Bengal. However, the central leadership made it clear that when it comes to organizational positions, the focus will be on people or leaders who have proven their loyalty to the Sangh Parivar ideology.
Majumdar is not only an RSS man, but he also had an affiliation with the ABVP when he was a student at the University of North Bengal. He was with the ABVP when the ABVP had no presence in Bengal. It is very clear now that no matter what happens in the state, the party will never allow TMC defectors to lead the organization.
Urban voters could focus more
There is no doubt that Ghosh was the key force behind the expansion of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Bengal. However, it was never fully accepted among the urban population of Bengal. His lifestyle, language and temperament were never accepted by the Bhadrolok elite. After this election, it became very clear that this population overwhelmingly voted for the TMC and outright rejected the BJP.
Traditionally, this population is liberal and center-left in terms of ideology. Now the BJP has realized that penetrating this population is very important.
With the appointment of Majumdar, who is a teacher by profession, the BJP believes it can gain acceptance for the party in urban areas of Bengal and especially in Kolkata. Several of Ghosh’s comments, such as suggesting the Bengal CM wear Bermuda shorts or threatening TMC supporters, were never approved by any section of the Bengalis.
Focus on North Bengal
Looking at the performances of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Bengal, it becomes clear that the party was the best in North Bengal. The central leadership of the BJP made Nisith Pramanik and John Barla both North Bengal MPs ministers in the Modi government in recognition of the party’s respect for the North Bengal mandate. Meanwhile, after the elections, several BJP leaders, including Barla, voiced their views in favor of a separate state for North Bengal. However, the state leadership of the BJP has distanced itself from the idea of dividing Bengal. Apparently, the BJP believes that Majumdar, who is also from North Bengal, will be the best person to deal with the situation.
The author is a freelance journalist and former policy researcher at the Delhi Assembly Research Center who writes on politics and politics. Views are personal