Numerous inputs, complaints that were received by the central leadership against the decisions being taken by BJP’s election pointsman in West Bengal, Kailash Vijayvargiya and Mukul Roy about candidate selection and ticket distribution, especially to those individuals who were discarded by the Trinamool Congress proved to be true on Sunday as the BJP failed to cross 100 seats in West Bengal.
In their first reaction post the result, several state leaders, with whom The Sunday Guardian spoke, repeated what they had been saying for the last few months—”BJP in Bengal had become a dumping ground of discarded TMC leaders.”
According to these leaders, Vijayvargiya and Roy, the two leaders—who were deciding everything even as the other senior man, Arvind Menon strategically withdrew from the campaign in the early months of 2021 in view of the autonomous decisions that were being taken by Vijayvargiya and Roy—were repeatedly asked by mid and lower level BJP cadre not to induct the over 100 TMC defectors whom they eventually ended up inducting, as that was going to hurt the party at two levels—angering the genuine, deserving BJP leaders and secondly leaving the voters, who were looking for change, to end up voting for the new TMC candidate as the existing one was now contesting on a BJP ticket.
Party leaders said that the duo of Vijayvargiya-Roy was given complete freedom in West Bengal and in many cases they decided BJP candidates for reasons other than the winnability factor.
According to a party general secretary, who had to go underground in view of an impending attack on him by TMC cadre after the result came out on Sunday, the party leadership should take the blame for the debacle as they chose to ignore the inputs that the mid and low-level functionaries were repeatedly sharing. “We kept telling them not to take TMC discards, it was going to boomerang, no one listened to us. We were told to follow Vijayvargiya-Roy. We have lost an election that we were winning”, he said.
Another prominent leader spoke about how the central leadership of the BJP was “misled” by some sections of BJP leaders who were working on the ground, including Vijayvargiya who started losing focus post May 2019 and became over-confident of his abilities.
A senior leader of the BJP told this newspaper, “Home Minister Amit Shah had placed his trust on Kailash Vijayvargiya, but he seems to have let of us down. Manufactured and wrong reports were being shared with the central leadership. In districts where BJP had to improve or strengthen itself, reports were being presented to the central leadership as a perfectly fine district which was in favour of the BJP. Some leaders, in order to score their brownie points in front of their bosses, cost us this election.”
Kailash Vijayvargiya was appointed as the in-charge for West Bengal in July 2015 and ever since he has been at the helm of affairs for the BJP in Bengal.
It is also pertinent to mention here that the BJP had given tickets to a dozen of defectors from the TMC those who had joined the BJP just before the elections, hoping that they could help the party sail through the electoral wave in Bengal.
But most of these TMC turncoats who were given BJP tickets lost the election. For example, former Bidhan Nagar Mayor and MLA Sabyasachi Dutta, Barrackpore MLA Shilbhadra Dutta, Pandeveshwar MLA Jitendra Tiwari, Uttarpara MLA Prabir Ghoshal, Santipur MLA Arindam Bhattacharya, Bijpur MLA Shubranghsu Roy, Singur MLA Rabindranath Bhattacharya, Domjur MLA Rajib Banerjee, Bally MLA Baishali Dalmiya, all of whom lost the election after leaving the TMC and contesting on BJP tickets.