BJP Showcauses Sayantan Basu and Agnimitra Paul

News Desk: In an obvious message to party leaders who have recently voiced concerns against induction of Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders in the party, the BJP has sent ‘showcause’ notices to two state-level and several district-level leaders, asking them to explain their comments made in the public on December 18 and 19.

The two state-level leaders who have been showcaused are general secretary Sayantan Basu and women’s wing chief Agnimitra Paul.

While the showcause notice does not mention the exact comment for which their explanation was being sought, it refers to the date. On that day – before Shah’s mega rally in West Midnapore district in which 10 MLAs from various parties joined the BJP – both Basu and Paul had voiced their opposition to the possible induction of TMC MLA Jitendra Tiwari, who was also the TMC’s West Burdwan district unit president and Asansol’s outgoing mayor. The two leaders have been asked to respond within seven days.

The notice has been issued by state unit vice-president Pratap Banerjee but the party’s state unit leaders said, state unit president Dilip Ghosh was the one who was asked by leaders in New Delhi to take this action.

“The action makes it clear that the party’s central leadership wants no objection from anyone in the party regarding the induction of new faces,” said a BJP state unit member who did not want to be identified.

Dilip Ghosh said that no one was above the party’s discipline. “The party will not tolerate any conflict between the so-called old-timers and newcomers,” Ghosh said.

The district unit leaders facing the disciplinary action are from Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar in north Bengal where they were allegedly involved in public agitations against the induction of the sitting TMC MLA and a former TMC Lok Sabha MP on December 19, the very day these leaders were inducted in Amit Shah’s presence.

Incidentally, Union minister and Asansol MP Babul Supriyo had also said in a social media video message on February that Tiwari was a hated person to BJP supporters for having led atrocities on behalf of TMC but had also clarified that the decision of inducting him was entirely the domain of the top leadership. However, there is no news of him being showcaused till Wednesday evening.

Basu and Paul had said that they would speak to central leadership to ensure that Tiwari is not inducted because he had a bad image.

Tiwari was almost certain to switch camps. Not only had he engaged in a heated verbal duel with state urban development minister and Mamata Banerjee’s close aide Firhad Hakim through the media, but he also met Suvendu Adhikari, defying a phone call from none less than Mamata Banerjee. Tiwari also quit all party posts and publicly said he would not keep the scheduled appointment with Mamata Banerjee.

Alarmed by these developments, Supriyo first took to social media saying that he wanted to clarify a rumour that was doing the rounds on Supriyo having arranged for Tiwari’s entry into BJP. The minister said that the decision, whatever it may be, was of the central leadership and that he had no role in it.

Soon afterwards came Basu and Paul’s remarks.

Unnerved by this set of developments, and with the TMC attempting a final discussion with him, Tiwari said at the end of the day that he had made a mistake of quitting his responsibilities and that he would seek the forgiveness of Mamata Banerjee.

“The case of Tiwari was not simply of one MLA changing his mind. It set a bad precedent. It is likely to impact other TMC leaders considering switching camps,” said a BJP Lok Sabha MP, requesting anonymity.

“Suvendu Adhikari expressed his dissatisfaction too and said that such a reaction from the BJP leaders would dissuade TMC leaders thinking of changing camp. Mukul Roy, too, expressed the same apprehensions,” the MP said.

Mukul Roy, Mamata Banerjee’s one-time righthand, joined the BJP in 2017 and is now a national vice-president. Adhikari, once one of Mamata Banerjee’s frontline leaders, joined the BJP on December 19, when six other TMC MLAs, three MLAs each from the Congress, CPI(M) and the CPI as well as a sitting TMC MP also joined the BJP.

The district leaders showcaused by BJP are Alipurduar district unit president Gangaprasad Sharma and Nagrakata block unit president Santosh Hati (Jalpaiguri district).

Sharma had said on December 19, “There is no post vacant in our party. Newcomers cannot be given any posts.”

Besides, BJP workers publicly agitated in Alipurduar and Nagrakata, got into altercations each other in Durgapur of West Burdwan district, and staged an agitation at a party office at Bishnupur in Bankura district, opposing induction of TMC leaders.

The BJP is heavily banking on defection from the TMC for toppling the Mamata Banerjee government in 2021. As many as 21 MLAs from different parties have joined the BJP since 2019.

The party plans to use Roy and Adhikari, who had earlier played crucial roles behind getting leaders from other parties to join the TMC, to engineer their defection drive in Mamata Banerjee’s camp.