Mukul Roy, other BJP leaders felicitated in Kolkata, Dilip Ghosh conspicuous by his absence – Hindustan Times

Kolkata News

A programme held in Kolkata on Sunday afternoon to felicitate former Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Mukul Roy for his elevation in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hierarchy was marked by the absence of state president Dilip Ghosh and a host of other leaders. They were all in the districts, holding rallies in support of the new farm laws.

A member of the BJP central executive since joining the party in 2017, Roy was made a national vice-president during a big reshuffle on September 26. BJP national general secretary and election observer for West Bengal, Kailash Vijayvargiya, and national secretary and co-in-charge of West Bengal Arvind Menon were also felicitated on Sunday.

Rajya Sabha member Swapan Dasgupta addressed the audience among whom the overwhelming presence of leaders and workers who defected from the TMC was noticeable. They even gave large framed photographs of Roy and Vijayvargiya embracing each other to the two leaders as a gift.

“I was born in West Bengal but now I am working for the central unit. If the BJP leadership wants to entrust me with any responsibility I will carry it out sincerely. Ousting the Mamata Banerjee government should be our only goal,” Roy told the audience during a short speech.

This immediately stoked speculations that Roy might be made head of the election committee for the assembly polls due in around six months.

Dasgupta also stressed on the need to fight the TMC as one. “It does not matter whether we want to approach from the left or from the right. We can have all kinds of opinion. The main objective is to establish a BJP government in West Bengal,” he said.

Incidentally, by replacing former Bengal unit president Rahul Sinha with former TMC MP Anupam Hazra as national secretary, the BJP central leadership last week sent a strong message to its Bengal leaders as well as the ruling party in the poll-bound state.

The reshuffle was announced by BJP president JP Nadda in Delhi on September 26. Sinha immediately voiced his dissent, saying, after serving the party for 40 years he had to make way for leaders from the TMC.

As Sinha’s emphasis on the entry of TMC leaders came under focus, Bengal BJP leaders maintained silence to avoid a controversy.

“I served the party as a soldier since its birth and this is how I was rewarded. Nothing can be more unfortunate,” Sinha said in a video message that went viral.

A senior BJP leader told HT last week that there was a growing feeling among TMC workers and leaders who joined the BJP that there was no scope for them to go up the hierarchy since they do not have a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) background. The reshuffle might counter this perception and encourage more people from TMC to defect, he said.

“One should not read too much into Sunday’s incident. Almost all state BJP leaders were out of town. However, it is a fact that the felicitation was held at the initiative of people who defected from the TMC,” a prominent leader of the Bengal BJP said on condition of anonymity. “After all the central leadership also wants more defections so that it becomes easier to defeat the ruling party in 2021,” he added.

When contacted by HT, some prominent state BJP leaders said they did not know who had organised the programme at the auditorium of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations at Ho Chi Minh Sarani in south Kolkata.

Ghosh toured East Midnapore and held four back-to-back rallies before returning to Kharagpur town on Sunday night.

“I am 300 km away from Kolkata. I do not know who held the programme,” said a leader known to be close to Ghosh.

Hazra, who has tested positive for Covid-19, could not attend Sunday’s programme.