Faction feud plagues BJP ahead of West Bengal bypolls

The party leadership’s decision to field Prem Chandra Jha, a close aid of the state BJP chief did not go down well with a section of BJP leaders and workers. Photo/AFP

The Bengal BJP leadership will be facing a litmus test in the upcoming Assembly by-elections.

Among the three poll-bound constituencies the saffron party is desperate to retain the Kharagpur Sadar Assembly seat won by BJP state Dilip Ghosh in the 2016 Assembly elections. Although Ghosh got a whopping lead of 45,133 votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the intense faction feud has become a cause of concern for the party.

The party leadership’s decision to field Prem Chandra Jha, a close aid of the state BJP chief did not go down well with a section of BJP leaders and workers. A senior BJP leader Pradip Kumar Patnaik floated a new outfit BJP Bachao Committee (Save BJP Committee) and will contest the by-election as an Independent candidate.

Patnaik, who has unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections six times as a BJP candidate made it clear that his discontent is against Ghosh for ignoring his objection against Jha’s candidature.

“I have repeatedly objected against Jha’s candidature as there are several criminal cases against him. But Jha was fielded at Ghosh’s behest. Hence I have decided to contest from Kharagpur Sadar,” said Patnaik.

BJP sources revealed that discontent against Jha’s candidature has also spread among a section of party workers and Ghosh had to hold several meetings with them to bring the situation under control.

Keen on taking advantage of BJP’s woes the Trinamool Congress (TMC) has upped the ante.  The ruling party in the state alleged that despite being the MLA from Kharagpur Sadar for three years Ghosh has done nothing for the area's development.

“The people of Kharagpur are fed up with BJP. We will expose BJP and win the seat,” said Ajit Maiety, TMC district president of West Medinipur.

However, Ghosh is confident of a clean sweep for BJP in the by-elections. “ We have fielded Patnaik several times in Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. But he never won. This time we had no option but to expel him. We are confident of victory,” said Ghosh.

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