Daggers drawn in Bengal BJP after poll debacle as seniors allege inexperienced leaders calling shots

BJP candidate Dilip Ghosh interacts with locals at Tetul Tala Bazar during his election campaign for Lok Sabha polls, in Bardhaman, May 8, 2024.
BJP candidate Dilip Ghosh interacts with locals at Tetul Tala Bazar during his election campaign for Lok Sabha polls, in Bardhaman, May 8, 2024.

Kolkata | Several West Bengal BJP leaders have blamed the dismal performance of the party in the Lok Sabha polls in the state on "inexperienced leaders" ruling the roost and hinted at "conspiracy" behind the loss of seats where winning chances were high.

The Trinamool Congress led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee swept the Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal, winning 29 of the 42 seats in the state. The BJP's tally, on the other hand, dropped to 12 from 18 in 2019.

The outcome has raised questions regarding the party's campaign strategy, organisational effectiveness, and narrative coherence.

"When those without any proper political experience of fighting elections call the shots in the organisation, this is the result that you get. There has to be some sort of accountability of the state leaders who decided everything in this election," newly elected BJP MP Saumitra Khan told reporters.

Khan managed to hold on to his Bishnupur seat by a slender margin. The state unit also struggled to reach double digits, winning several seats by narrow margins.

Former state BJP president Dilip Ghosh, who lost from the Bardhaman-Durgapur seat to TMC's Kirti Azad by nearly 1.38 lakh votes, hinted at a "conspiracy" to ensure his defeat.

"A conspiracy was hatched to ensure that I got defeated or why else would I be sent to Bardhaman-Durgapur. It seems the party had sent me to Bardhaman-Durgapur from Medinipur to ensure that I lost the elections," he said.

Ghosh, while speaking to a Bengali news channel, said there has been no proper introspection in the party after the 2021 assembly poll debacle.

"No one was held accountable for the loss in 2021. If there is no course correction or introspection even now, this debacle will be repeated in 2026. In the last few years, the party did not have any growth in West Bengal; rather its support base has eroded in the last five years," he said.

Ghosh, former MP from the Medinipur constituency, was relocated to Bardhaman-Durgapur, a seat where the battle against TMC was perceptively tough, where he replaced outgoing MP SS Ahluwalia.

The latter, in turn, was moved to Asansol. The party's sitting MLA from Asansol Dakshin, Agnimitra Paul, replaced Ghosh at Medinipur. All three BJP candidates were trounced by their TMC counterparts in the recently concluded polls.

Former BJP MP from Hooghly Locket Chatterjee, who failed to win the seat for the second consecutive time, sought a proper introspection in the party.

West Bengal BJP president Sukanta Majumdar, although agreed that there is a need for introspection, said the party has increased its vote share by one per cent as compared to the 2021 assembly polls.

"It is not that the party is not moving ahead. Our vote share has increased when compared to the 2021 assembly elections, although it has gone down when compared to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls," he said.

The Trinamool Congress registered a 45.77 per cent vote share in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal, up by more than two per cent from the 43.7 per cent vote share it received in 2019.

The BJP, on the other hand, registered a vote share of 38.73 per cent in the state this time which, unlike what the pollsters had predicted, was down by over two per cent as compared to the 40.6 per cent votes it received five years ago.

The TMC alleged that the saffron camp has realised that it could not fight the Mamata Banerjee-led party in the state.

"It is good that they have at least realised that they can never fight Mamata Banerjee in the state. I hope they will convey this message to their central leadership," TMC leader Kunal Ghosh said.

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