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Elections 2021

BJP's candidate selection goes awry, supporters stage protests in Bengal

IANS | March 16, 2021 10:50 PM

KOLKATA: Barely a few weeks ahead of the crucial West Bengal assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s senior leadership is in a soup as the selection of a few candidates in first four phases went awfully wrong in some of the seats in Bengal.

Saffron activists, armed with banners and posters, staged protests outside the BJP state headquarters on Tuesday demanding changes in the candidate list declared by the party's Central Election Committee (CEC). Hundreds of protesters had gathered outside the BJP election office in Kolkata since this morning and pelted stones while sloganeering against the party's candidate selection process.

A group of BJP activists threw stones targeting party's state committee member from South 24-Parganas district Abhijit Das.

A police officer sustained injuries in the incident. It forced the Kolkata Police to resort to mild baton charge to disperse the crowd. At least eight people were detained in connection with the stone-throwing incident, sources said.

West Bengal BJP leader Samik Bhattacharya, however, dubbed the incident of protests outside the party office as "some kind of conspiracy" by the opposition.

The situation went so out of control that Union home minister Amit Shah and BJP national president J.P. Nadda had to fly back to Kolkata from Assam to hold long sessions with state unit leaders throughout last night (Monday). After the preliminary discussion, Shah also called all the top state BJP unit leaders to the national Capital for an emergency meeting on Tuesday night to troubleshoot the issue.

In a desperate attempt to topple the Trinamool Congress-led state government in Bengal, the BJP also fielded both its Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs such as Locket Chatterjee, Babul Supriyo and Swapan Dasgupta from various assembly seats in Bengal.

Trinamool Congress Lok Sabha MP Mahua Moitra also pointed fingers at BJP Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta. She tweeted, raising a few questions: "Haha - press mischief and fibs about "senior leaders"! Get facts straight...Dasgupta can contest. Nomination will not be cancelled due to RS. But he will lose RS when he files as BJP WB candidate. Either resign RS now or be disqualified. No safety net".

Meanwhile, Dasgupta also resigned from the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. "I have resigned from the Rajya Sabha today to commit myself totally to the fight for a better Bengal. I hope to file my nomination as BJP candidate for the Tarakeshwar Assembly seat in the next few days, " the outgoing BJP RS member said.

According to sources in the BJP, the party high command is reportedly planning to field BJP West Bengal unit president Dilip Ghosh and all India vice-president Mukul Roy into the fray. "The next course of the BJP's political action will be decided after today's meeting in Delhi. We are keeping a close watch on that, " party sources said.

It was also learnt that Shah wants to give complete organisational control of Bengal to BJP's central leadership, ahead of the high-voltage Bengal polls.

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