Questioning the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state unit’s rationale behind selecting candidates in West Bengal for the Lok Sabha elections, party leader and former MP Dilip Ghosh on Friday alleged that a section of BJP leaders with “vested interests” were “ruining the careers of others”.

Ghosh’s statement comes in the wake of the BJP’s lackluster performance in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, where its seat tally dipped from 18 seats to 12. The ruling Trinamool Congress bagged 29 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state, with the Congress winning one. .

In Bardhaman Durgapur, Ghosh was defeated by former Indian cricketer Kirti Azad, who was contesting on a TMC ticket. The Bardhaman-Durgapur seat was earlier held by former Union Minister SS Ahluwalia, who in turn was transferred to Asansol. The party’s sitting MLA from Asansol Dakshin, Agnimitra Paul, took over Ghosh’s position in Medinipur. Both Ahluwalia and Paul were defeated by their TMC rivals in the elections.

Talking to reporters, Ghosh launched a veiled attack at the Leader of Opposition in state Assembly Suvendu Adhikari. “We have seen defeats not only in West Bengal but across the country. We have got about 60 to 70 seats less than what we got in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. There is a need for introspection on why we lost so many seats in Bengal. I was moved away from my seat. This is the reason why we could not retain my previous seat as well as the new seat. Someone with vested interests in the party backstabbed me,” Ghosh said without taking any names.

“Some leaders with vested interests are ruining the careers of others,” he added.

Festive offer

According to sources in the BJP, of the state’s 42 constituencies, Adhikari played a role in choosing candidates in 34. Of them, seven won. “When my seat was changed, there were questions in Agnimitra Paul’s mind, who was given my seat. She also looked underconfident to retain the seat. Those who made the decision need to take the blame. But some leaders are running the party to suit their personal interest,” Ghosh said.

Continuing his critique, Ghosh questioned the choices made by the state BJP leadership, particularly in relocating experienced leaders like him and former Union MoS Debasree Choudhury from familiar constituencies to unfamiliar ones. “Candidates like me and (former Union MoS) Debasree Choudhury, who are familiar with constituencies like Medinipur and Raiganj and having worked at the grassroots level for years were dispatched to other seats this time. This has to be looked into. Although we retained Raiganj, it is inexplicable why Choudhury was shunted to Kolkata Dakshin?,” he said.

Following the criticism from party old-timers in Bengal, Adhikari was summoned to Delhi by BJP’s central leadership. Since reaching the national capital on Thursday, Adhikari has not spoken in public.

Supporting Ghosh, BJP MLA from Bankura Niladri Sekhar Dana said, “He (Ghosh) is like the Himalayan mountain. He has done a lot for the party. We have definitely made a mistake (regarding his candidacy).”

Reacting to Ghosh’s allegations, Paul, who is considered close to Adhikari, said, “It is not right to say that I didn’t want to contest from there (Medinipur). When Amit Shah ji and JP Nadda ji asked me to contest from there, I could not say no to them. I don’t know why Dilip Ghosh is calling me Adhikari’s candidate. This is not true. It is not right to say that even if Dilip Ghosh had contested he would have won from there.”

Senior TMC leader Firhad Hakim alleged that new entrants to the BJP were undermining and disregarding loyal, long-term leaders. “The way Ghosh was treated by his party proves beyond doubt that some new entrants are calling the shots and dictating the terms with scant regard and respect for loyal, long-term party leaders. This is how the BJP is functioning. There is no chance of the party getting acceptance from the people of Bengal,” he added. — With PTI inputs

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