6 held for violence as BJP supporters continue to protest over party's candidate selection
Kolkata: Laying bare the rift between old-timers and new entrants — when the list of 168 seats is yet to be announced — BJP workers on Tuesday continued their protests in several parts of Bengal, including the party's state election office in Kolkata, over the selection of candidates for the ensuing Assembly polls.
The resentment of BJP supporters demanding change of candidates in different Assembly seats across the state has rocked the BJP state headquarters where according to sources police had to use mild lathi-charge to disperse the protesters and six people have so far been detained for pelting stones.
Alleging conspiracy, saffron party spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said at a press meet: "It is impossible that BJP workers turned violent. This is some kind of conspiracy."
Union minister Amit Shah had held a meeting — that went on till late on Monday night — with the BJP's central leaders and their counterparts in the state to address the issue but it yielded no results and demonstrations by the old-timers across the state continued unabated for the third consecutive day on Tuesday.
Shah, who left for New Delhi on Tuesday afternoon, has convened a meeting at the party's central office in New Delhi on Wednesday. State BJP leaders will attend the meeting. It was learnt that he had instructed the state leaders to ensure that no demonstrations were held in future. Also, the central leadership is firm that they are not going to change the candidates.
Shah held a series of meetings with party heavyweights including J P Nadda, party's national president, Kailash Vijayvargiya, Shiv Prakash from Monday evening at a star hotel in New Town to prepare a roadmap for the election and address the resentment issue.
The state leaders, including Dilip Ghosh, Rahul Sinha, Sishir Bajoria, Mukul Roy were also present there. It was learnt that the central leadership had refused to buy the arguments put forward by the state leaders that the demonstrations were sporadic and would not affect the party's poll prospects.
BJP old-timers gathered at the party office at Hastings on Tuesday demanding the replacement of over a dozen party candidates. They demanded that in South 24-Parganas the candidates in Kulpi, Magrahat, Canning West be replaced immediately.
On Tuesday morning, some BJP supporters ransacked the party office in South 24-Parganas demanding the replacement of Agnishwar Naskar from Bishnupur seat. Naskar recently joined the BJP from Trinamool. The demonstrators put up a roadblock at Amtala–Bakrahat Road. The party workers ransacked the party office at Haripal in Hooghly district demanding the replacement of Samiran Mitra who has recently joined the BJP from Trinamool.
Meanwhile, Bhaskar Bhattacharya, former president of BJP's Hooghly unit and state committee member has resigned from the party. He said he wanted to contest from Srirampur or Champdani from where the party has nominated Kabirshankar Bose and Dilip Singh.
BJP old-timers staged a demonstration demanding change of candidates at Uttarpara (from where Prabir Ghoshal is contesting), Chinsurah (from where Locket Chatterjee is contesting), Chandannagore, Singur (from where Rabindranath Bhattacharya is contesting), Haripal and Tarakeshwar.
The party workers also demanded replacement of candidates in Panhla and Udaynarayanpur.