Bengal BJP renames 'Jan Ashirwad Yatra' as 'Shahid Samman Yatra'

By Express News Service

KOLKATA: Surprised by the Election Commission of India’s announcement to hold bypoll in the Bhowanipore Assembly constituency, the beleaguered Bengal BJP has appeared to be in a state of disarray on the issue of who would be its candidate to take on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the south Kolkata seat.

When the duel between Mamata and her former lieutenant-turned-BJP-candidate Suvendu Adhikari in the Nandigram constituency drew nationwide attention in the recent Assembly polls, the saffron camp in Bengal is completely perplexed as it was not prepared to face such a high-voltage bypoll within less than a month from now.

“There were 32 Assembly constituencies across the country where by-elections are pending because of Covid pandemic. We had no idea that the poll panel would consider the Bhowanipore constituency as an exception when it decided not to hold by-poll in the other 31 Assembly seats. We were confident that the Commission will continue toeing our line and keep deferring the bypolls so that Mamata would miss her November 5 deadline to get elected as an MLA and continue as the CM,” said a BJP leader.

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A section of BJP functionaries expressed their displeasure on the party’s tactical line. “When our plan of deferring the by-election did not work, it is surprising that our leadership had no plan B. They had unflinching faith in the central leadership’s ability to take the commission into confidence and defer the by-election. As a result, no one thought who could be our candidate against Mamata if the by-election is announced,” said a BJP functionary in Kolkata.

Sections within the party eve started mulling over the moving court to get a stay from the judiciary on the by-election.

“Our party should field a popular or heavyweight candidate against Mamata. It will send a positive message down to the grassroots despite the chances of winning is almost zero. If the party fields a weak candidate only to participate in the electoral practice, it will not go down well. Especially at a time, when our legislative strength reduced to 71 from 77,” said the leader.       

Many, known to be from the lobby of state president Dilip Ghosh who are not happy with Adhikari’s meteoric rise in the party, suggested Adhikari’s name. “Adhikari claimed before the Assembly elections that Mamata would have lost from her erstwhile Bhowanipore constituency. Why doesn’t he resigns as Nandigram MLA and contest against Mamata?’’ said a BJP leader.