An old Bengali saying goes, “Aapaat kale, biporeet buddhi” meaning, when in a crisis situation, one tends to lose their ability to think clearly. This is what appears to be happening to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in West Bengal. How else can one explain the recent open threats issued by Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh to rival party workers at a rally in Haldia?
Ghosh said, “All brothers of Didi better mend their ways in six months. Otherwise their arms, legs, ribs and heads will be broken. You will either end up in the hospital or the crematorium!”
All this was in full public view with cameras rolling, suggesting that Ghosh either feels that he can get away with it. It is noteworthy that Ghosh’s controversial speech comes just two days after Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to the state.
Ghosh attracted sharp criticism for his statements on Twitter from not only TMC members, but also ordinary citizens:
.@DilipGhoshBJP babu your repeated crass attempts at inciting crowds shows your poor understanding of the difference between a petty rabble-rouser and a true leader. Perhaps you could take a crash-course on leadership skills before you aspire to become the latter.#GoonsOfBJP pic.twitter.com/Wkll9pZA7y
— Didi Ke Bolo (@DidiKeBolo) November 9, 2020
Politics is about healthy discourse, rightful thinking and development for the people; and not spreading hatred and violence!! This behaviour of @DilipGhoshBJP is a new low in Indian politics! #GoonsOfBJP https://t.co/DwmQMUmHC7
— #AarogyaSetuApp Creator (@BengalBachao) November 9, 2020
The Bengal leadership of @BJP4India seem to have taken law into their own hands. Death threats and violence does not work in a democracy. Please respect the electoral process. https://t.co/MfOW72Ffxq#GoonsofBJP
— Sudip Raha (@aitcsudip) November 9, 2020
Looking at the history of Bhartiya Jumla Party, if it comes to power wb under @BJP4Bengal, looters, corruption, & #GoonsOfBJP will be set free with the “Licence To Loot” while common people will suffer & Nationalists will do jail parade for their endless scams.
— Banatosh Ghosh (@BanatoshGhosh) November 9, 2020
When leadership starts spewing hate on a consistent level, it is time to get cautious. @DilipGhoshBJP , you need to understand that violence is never the solution. Good governance is. #GoonsOfBJPhttps://t.co/rcEasE7ZVO pic.twitter.com/1hwuzzzzUh
— Trinankur Bhattacharjee (@TrinankurWBTMCP) November 9, 2020
How long will we tolerate these #GoonsOfBJP?
Keep yourself safe from these vultures https://t.co/kFDW1wDwSC
— Nilanjan Das (@NilanjanDas_) November 9, 2020
Dilip Ghosh sets a new low even by BJP standards.
BJP leaders belong behind the bars.#GoonsOfBJP
— Sabina Yeasmin (@mla52sabina) November 9, 2020
Bengal is perhaps the most coveted state in the country for the BJP that is determined to win the assembly elections next year. However, issuing death threats to rivals in public is certainly not the way to accomplish that goal.
Meanwhile, there are reports of fresh cracks appearing within the Bengal BJP. Subrato Chattopadhyay, a long-time member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and someone who was seen as Dilip Ghosh’s right-hand man was removed as state general secretary in late October. He was replaced by another old RSS hand Amitava Chakravorty who was until recently party organizing secretary in neighbouring Odisha. According to a report in The Wire, the move could be a way to check Ghosh’s power and authority in the state.
Ghosh’s style of functioning has also led to rifts in the party in the state. He had recently dissolved all district committees of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the youth wing of the party in the state. This was seen as a rather public snubbing of BJYM president and Bishnupur MP Saumitra Khan who had finalised the list of district committees, allegedly without consulting ‘seniors’ in the party.
This power-struggle is even more interesting given how Khan originally hails from the All India Trinamool Congress and switched to the BJP just before the 2019 general elections. Many such ex-AITC leaders helped bring valuable political capital to the BJP, as a result of which the party was seen to be making several exceptions in order to accommodate their aspirations, much to the chagrin of the original BJP members who feel sidelined.
Ghosh’s threats are yet another example of BJP’s self-destructive tendencies. If the party doesn’t mend its ways, its rivals may retain their limbs and heads, but BJP will lose Bengal.