The central leadership of the BJP has started mulling over strategies to salvage the party’s state unit with several leaders questioning the party's failure in the state elections earlier this year.
Before the state elections, scores of politicians jumped ship from the Trinamool Congress (TMC) to the BJP, but there's been a reversal of fortunes; over 100 leaders have returned to the ruling TMC in the last few days.
While many leaders have expressed their willingness to return to the ruling party fold, the silence of former TMC stalwart and now BJP vice-president, Mukul Roy, is adding to the worries of the BJP.
Meanwhile, Suvendu Adhikari, another prominent BJP leader, has arrived in New Delhi to give feedback about the post-poll violence in West Bengal. Adhikari claims at least 40 BJP members have been killed since the assembly election result was announced on 2 May.
Political analyst Sandeep Shashtri says the reverse exodus is not a surprise after the election results.
“The party will evaluate the situation. Meeting of Suvendu Adhikari with the central leadership will be more about making strategies to consolidate the position in the state for the General Elections 2024,” he said.
While Adhikari is in the capital to meet federal Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP President Jai Prakash Nadda, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the brewing rebellion and "reverse migration," two other members of Parliament, Arjun Singh and Saumitra Khan, are also heading to Delhi meetings for talks.
Regarding the post-poll chaos in the state, political analyst Shekhar Aiyar says that candidates who contested unsuccessfully on the BJP tickets want to return to the TMC as they no longer have a future with the BJP.
“Secondly, they are afraid of the violence. The post-poll violence in the state has infused a sense of fear among those who had joined the BJP before the elections. Adding to this, there is a realisation within the BJP also that the leaders who came from the Trinamool Congress have failed. So, there is a possibility that they might not stop such leaders from staying back,” Aiyar added.
The clashes between the BJP and TMC erupted after the election result was announced on 2 May, with supporters of both parties reportedly brawling in the streets and vandalising shops and homes. Out of 292 assembly seats, TMC won 213 against the BJP's 77.
Leaders like former TMC minister Rajib Banerjee, who lost on a BJP ticket (Domjur in Howrah), one of the first TMC-turned-BJP leaders and former Satgachia MLA Sonali Guha, several leaders from North Bengal including Sarala Murmu, who joined the BJP despite getting a ticket from the TMC and former MLA Amal Acharya want to return to the party.
Psephologist Biswanath Chakraborty said that most people’s livelihood in West Bengal depend on power politics. “There are several challenges for the leaders of the Opposition parties in West Bengal. Not only for the leaders but for their family members too, there is a huge risk of being in the opposition. Therefore, no one wants to be in the Opposition. Many leaders had joined the BJP thinking that they would be in power, but that didn’t happen so they are now looking forward to joining the Trinamool Congress,” he said.
Infighting Among Grassroots Workers
The challenges for the BJP in the state have increased after the polls, especially due to the violence. The party is also struggling to deal with infighting.
Tickets were given to those who came from TMC during the assembly elections; this irked the party members who had worked hard at grassroots level. This is one of the major reasons why there's a crisis within the party in the state.