Elections 2021

How reliance on TMC turncoats failed to pay off for BJP

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on May 03, 2021

BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari arrives to file nomination from the Nandigram seat (file photo)   -  PTI

Over 140 BJP candidates were those who had shifted loyalties, but few won

For the BJP, banking on turncoats from the Trinamool Congress failed to pay off in the just concluded Assembly elections.

Except of course for the few such as Mukul Roy, Suvendu Adhikari, Nishit Pramanik, Sankar Ghosh and Mihir Goswami.

Party sources say, nearly 140 defectors were fielded and many lost.

‘Poor show in key south’

For the BJP, Howrah, with 16 seats, was one of the key districts, but it was debacle. Apart from its own organisational weaknesses, the party relied heavily on defectors like Rajiv Banerjee, a former minister in Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet and two time MLA; Baishali Dalmiya,daughter of Late Jagmohan Dalmiya; and Rathin Chakraborty, former mayor of Howrah, among others to pull it through. Trinamool bagged all the 16 seats stamping its dominance in the region.

In the neighbouring Hooghly, Singur’s former MLA Rabindranath Bhattacharjee and Uttarpara’s Prabir Ghoshal were key defectors. The BJP highlighted them as faces against Mamata Banerjee’s misgovernance. Both lost.

Other big ticket defectors, Jiten Tiwari in Pandabeshwar (Burdwan) and Sabyasachi Dutta in Bidhannagar (North 24 Parganas), believed to be efficient organisers with support bases... lost.

Two-time MLA Dipak Halder, who had joined the BJP in February, lost to Pannalal Halder of the Trinamool from Diamond Harbour in South 24 Parganas district, the largest administrative district in the State, where the BJP has now been wiped clean.

Diptangshu Chowdhury, an ex-advisor to Mamata Banerjee, who contested the Durgapur Purba seat for BJP lost; while Arindam Bhattacharya was defeated in Jagatdal seat.

Mukul Roy’s son, Subhrangshu lost at Bijpur – another high profile constituency.

‘Better in North Bengal’

Comparatively, TMC-defectors in north Bengal turned out to be giant-slayershave fared better, banking on BJP’s better organisation capabilities and their own support base.

Veteran CPM leader Ashok Bhattacharya, a six-time MLA and a former minister from Siliguri, was defeated by Shankar Ghosh, his former protégé and another high profile inductee into the BJP.

Two ministers of the Mamata Banerjee cabinet lost - Gautam Deb and Rabindranath Ghosh – to defectors. Deb lost from the Dabgram-Fulbari seat to Shikha Chatterjee, a deserted Trinamool in 2018. Rabindranath Ghosh, conceded defeat to Mihir Goswami who joined the BJP last year.

Krishna Kalyani, the BJP candidate of Raiganj who left Trinamool recently defeated Mohit Sengupta, a prominent Congress leader of North Dinajpur.

According to Bishwanath Chakraborty, political commentator, the TMC had a strong organisation in south Bengal and intra-party feuds were possible to contain once these turncoats left. “In north Bengal, the BJP has a stronger organisation and there is a much multi-cultural presence that rings with the party,” he told BusinessLine.

Face savers

For BJP, Suvendu Adhikari has emerged as their giant slayer. Although he defeated Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram, by a slender margin, the BJP failed to capitalise on his organisation to make major in-roads in other areas of Purba Midnapore, and adjoining districts of Paschim Midnapore and Jhargram. BJP won just 9 of the 35 seats in these three districts.

Mukul Roy, emerged winner in one of his rare electoral frays in the Krishnanagar North. “Mukul is veteran politician who knows how to turn the tide. And Suvendu did win, but at what cost? Over-reliance on him cost BJP seats across other adjoining districts,” a BJP leader said, requesting anonymity.

Published on May 03, 2021

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