West Bengal polls: BJP learns its lessons, fields fewer turncoats after protests

Express News Service
KOLKATA:  Taking a lesson from the unexpected intra-party rebellion caused by the selection of Trinamool Congress turncoats, the BJP high command, in its latest list of 157 candidates for the West Bengal polls, decided against including faces who recently came over from the ruling party.

While the previous list included more than 70 TMC turncoats out of 123, Thursday’s list had only 13, including 10 MLAs. “Demonstrations in front of the party’s election headquarters in Kolkata and other parts of South 24 Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly districts were triggered by the party’s decision to field TMC turncoats who joined our party very recently. The party high-command was not happy with the intra-party rebellion and decided to give the party’s old workers priority,’’ said a senior BJP leader in Kolkata.

Irked by the party’ internal feud that surfaced publicly, Union Home Minister Amit Shah held an unscheduled meeting with the Bengal functionaries and national leaders camping in the state. Before leaving for Delhi,  Shah asked the Bengal functionaries to attend an emergency meeting in the national capital with a list of candidates for the next phases.  

Although Thursday’s list did not feature too many recent turncoats, incidents of ransacking and protests took place in at least three places after the announcement. Roadblocks were put up at Jagaddal in protest against TMC defector Arindam Bhattacharya’s candidature from North 24 Parganas. Agitations were staged in Durgapur after BJP announced TMC MLA Jitendra Tiwari’s candidature in Pandeveshwar.

Senior BJP functionaries, including Union minister Babul Supriyo had opposed Tiwari’s inclusion in the BJP. In Jalpaiguri, BJP supporters ransacked the party office as they were not happy with the candidates. “It was a rift between the party’s old workers. Many aspirants who wanted to contest elections were denied tickets,’’ said a BJP leader.

ISF names 10 non-MuslimsThe ISF, led by cleric Abbas Siddiqui, has named 21 candidates. Ten of them are Hindu or from Adivasi communities. Rest are Muslims. ISF has formed an alliance with Left and Congress.