Kolkata, Jan 22, 2021: Factional fights erupted at BJP offices at two different places in West Bengal on Thursday between old BJP workers and those who joined the party from the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress.
At Asansol, the fight took place behind hastily behind closed doors at the party office in front of Minister Babul Supriyo and national secretary Arvind Menon.
At Burdwan town, the clash spilled on to the streets where rival BJP workers not only threw stones at each other outside the BJP office,but also clashed with the police who rushed in after a tempo and several motorcycles were set on fire on the street outside. Seven people were arrested and four injured.
With the state elections being roughly three months away, the internal feud has become a matter of concern for the party’s top leaders. Not only is it disrupting party discipline, but it has also raised concern about the impact on voters of the "TMCficaiton of the BJP".
"If the BJP becomes full of TMC people and starts looking like TMC team B, then voters who wanted to reject TMC and vote for BJP may think twice," a senior leader said.
The state BJP has been set a target of 200 seats by Union home minister Amit Shah for the upcoming polls.
In recent party meetings in Delhi, there has reportedly been a decision to be more selective about who can join the BJP from now on.
Chaos erupted at Burdwan after several BJP workers came from Kanksa, Ausgram, Mangalkot, Katwa and other places in East Burdwan gathered in front of the party’s Burdwan town office and started raising slogans against district chief Sandip Nandi and demanded his immediate removal.
The faction loyal to Mr Nandi who were inside the office climbed on to the roof and threw stones at the dissident group who threw stones back, smashing the office windows. Some BJP workers -- there are rival claims about which group - set fire to the vehicles.
The dissident group claim they had given blood and sweat to build the party but now they were being sidelined by the district president Nandi who was only encouraging new imports from the Trinamool.
Less than two weeks ago, BJP chief JP Nadda visited Burdwan and held a huge roadshow. He had virtually inaugurated the Burdwan office last month.
BJP denied it was a factional clash.
"You saw the huge rally by Mr JP Nadda. The Trinamool has now got scared so they have conspired to create this trouble. A local leader planned this, hired people to carry this operation. Mamata Banerjee and the PK team have done this in a planned way because they are scared of losing. We want the administration to investigate and arrest," said Raju Banerjee, BJP leader.
Trinamool minister and Burdwan district leader Swapan Debnath has denied these claims.
In Asansol, Babul Supriyo accepted there had been angry exchanges between party workers. "In any family, there are issues, there is anger. Our workers met (BJP national secretary) Arvind Menon and me together. Such meeting don’t happen often. So when 10 to 30 people start speaking at the same time, there was naturally some excitement. But it settled down after people started listening to each other. People have to get used to listening to others also."
But sources say here too it was the old BJP workers at war with Trinamool imports. Workers from the Barabani and Kulti mandals had come for poll strategy talks but a dispute erupted over the newly appointed district Yuva Morcha president Arijit Roy. He had allegedly let out old BJP workers from the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha district committee. These are not the first incidents of factional fights in the BJP. The most startling was on January 8 at Nandigram. During a rally there called by new import Suvendu Adhikari and attended by top leaders Dilip Ghosh and Kailash Vijayvargiya, a section of original BJP workers had thrown stones at an adjoining dais where Trinamool workers were waiting to ceremonially join BJP. "The same people of the Trinamool who had tortured us BJP workers were now going to join our party. We are not ready to tolerate that," an old BJP worker had said.