The BJP has launched efforts to salvage its Bengal unit, with several leaders in the state raising tough questions and not hiding their resentment after the party’s election loss.
BJP Vice-President Mukul Roy skipped a party meet in Kolkata called by state chief Dilip Ghosh. Mr Roy has been silent but his son Shubranshu has not ruled out a return to Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress.
The Trinamool claims 35 BJP MLAs are eager to return and are in touch with the leadership. The tables are turned, gloats the party that lost its leaders and MLAs to the BJP in the weeks before the Bengal election.
Amid signs of brewing rebellion and “reverse migration”, the BJP’s most prominent acquisition from the Trinamool, Suvendu Adhikari, met with Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president JP Nadda in Delhi.
Two MPs, Arjun Singh and Saumitra Khan, are also heading to Delhi for meetings aimed at “feedback and review”.
The party’s strategy, both during and after the state election, has been called into question by Bengal leaders, especially those who ditched Mamata Banerjee just before the polls.
These leaders resent that the BJP brought in campaigners from outside for the state election instead of relying on the local leadership that delivered 18 of Bengal’s 42 Lok Sabha seats in 2019. It was a “mistake” that helped Mamata Banerjee, they say, as she turned it into a “Mamata versus All” and a “Trinamool vs outsiders” fight.
Among the doubters is Trinamool alum and ex-minister Rajib Banerjee, who joined the BJP in the presence of Home Minister Amit Shah after dramatically flying to Delhi in a private jet arranged by the ruling party.
Mr Banerjee has, in a Facebook post, questioned his new party’s move to threaten President’s rule in Bengal and the Centre’s moves against Mamata Banerjee, who retained power by a landslide. The people of Bengal will not take it well, he says, and advises the party to focus on Covid and the aftermath of Cyclone Yaas.
Another former Trinamool leader, Sabyasachi, told a local channel: “Getting leaders who can’t speak Bengali to run the campaign was a mistake.”