Union Home Minister Amit Shah held an emergency meeting with BJP leader JP Nadda late Monday night, sources told CNN-News18, after BJP supporters protested the second list of candidates released by the party for the West Bengal elections.
Shah flew back from Guwahati and the leaders met at Hotel Westin in Kolkata, sources added.
Protests were held on Monday outside the BJP’s office here and elsewhere across Bengal over the second list of poll candidates released by the party a day ago, laying bare the rift between old-timers and new entrants. Irate activists broke guard rails and demonstrated in front of the BJP’s Hastings office to stop party national vice president Mukul Roy and senior party leader Arjun Singh from entering its premises.
A section of demonstrators even banged on the bonnet of Roy’s car and threatened to storm the office, as the police faced a difficult time controlling them. “We demand immediate withdrawal of TMC turncoat Mohitlal Ghati’s candidature in Panchla. We cannot accept him as a nominee,” one of the agitators said as she lay flat on the road outside the party office.
In Hooghly district’s Singur assembly constituency, BJP activists locked up party functionaries in their office over the nomination of another TMC turncoat and sitting MLA Rabindranath Bhattacharya. The octogenarian leader switched camp after being denied a ticket by the ruling party.
Around hundred BJP supporters in Raidighi assembly segment of South 24 Parganas held demonstrations all day in protest against the nomination of TMC defector Santanu Bapuli. “He was involved in attacks mounted on us, he had tried to crush the BJP,” a party supporter said.
Addressing a press conference at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi, party general secretary Arun Singh along with Union ministers from West Bengal, Babul Supriyo and Debasree Chaudhuri, released the names of 63 candidates for the third and fourth phase of polls, to be held on April 6 and 10. Massive protests erupted in various parts of the state following the announcement, with several leaders openly expressing dissatisfaction over the candidature of newcomers.
In north Bengal, agitators took to the streets to oppose the nominations of former chief economic adviser to the government, Ashok Lahiri, from Alipurduar and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha turncoat Bishal Lama from Kalchini. “We don’t know who is this Ashok Lahiri and why was he nominated. Old-timers from Alipurduar are being ignored…
Bishal Lama joined the party just two days ago and he was nominated. Local BJP workers will never accept this,” a saffron party leader, who did not wish to be named, said. Referring to the demonstrations, BJP spokesman Shamik Bhattacharya claimed “these are stray incidents.” “The BJP is growing in size, as more and more people join the party. The number of aspirants has also increased.
There are bound to be some problems, but that will be addressed soon,” he added.
(With inputs from Payal Mehta)