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Irate BJP leaders field Independent nominees on 150 seats

Contai: Amid escalating protests over BJP's selection of candidates, the disgruntled leaders of the saffron party are contesting as Independent nominees on at least 150 seats for the upcoming polls to 294-member strong state Assembly. The party has so far announced the names of 282 candidates.

A section of old BJP workers is opposing the 'new entrants' claiming that the latter don't know much about the ideologies of the party. Out of 282 BJP candidates, 46 had joined the party less than two years back. Most of the defectors—as many as 34—are from the Trinamool Congress (TMC). While six turncoats from the Left had joined the party, four from Congress and one each from Forward Bloc and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM). Moreover, 36 defectors had joined the party in the last 6 months.

And, this has upset the old timers leading to repeated clashes, roadblocks, sit-in-demonstrations, and ransacking of party offices within hours after BJP's list was announced. According to political analysts, the situation turned grim when a large section of the old workers of the party formed "Adi BJP Banchao Mancha" and joined hands with Bharatiya Jana Sangha (BJS).

Chandranath Mukherjee— claimed to be a former member of BJP's state committee who led the 'Adi BJP Banchao Mancha' and became one of the core committee members of BJS—said: "Who is Suvendu Adhikari? Do we have to accept what Sovan Chatterjee and Baisakhi Banerjee decide? These two-three are mere examples. It is happening everywhere. The local leaders, who fought to give a foothold in Assembly constituencies, are not given tickets. Why should they compromise for a person who joined only a few months ago?"

The Independents are being supported by Bharatiya Jana Sangh. Meanwhile, two Independent candidates from Midnapore were "forced" to withdraw their candidature.

Citing Asansol South Assembly seat, from where state chief of BJP's women wing Agnimitra Paul is contesting, as an example, Mukherjee said: "18 Independent candidates are contesting from seats including Burdwan Dakshin, Bhatar, Ausgram and Khadaghosh in East and West Burdwan."

According to political experts, Independent candidates would leave a major dent in BJP's vote bank.

"We have independent candidates, supported by us, in almost all districts starting from Hooghly, Howrah, South 24-Parganas to East Midnapore. There are many who are contesting from Jangalmahal districts Jhargram and West Midnapore. They (BJP) seem to have shifted from its ideology. They are now hungry for power and indifferent to the woes of people due to the hike in petrol prices. Just see farmers, who grow food for us, are dying agitating on roads," said a senior leader of BJS Subrata Mukherjee.

"A senior woman leader, who was in BJP, is fighting as an Independent candidate from Saptagram in Hooghly, where on all 18 seats BJS is supporting the Independent candidates.

Many of these Independent candidates have already filed their nominations. They are also campaigning in their areas and on social media as well, he added.

Earlier on Friday, Trinamool Congress (TMC) Chairperson Mamata Banerjee had also railed against her former party colleagues calling them "Mir Jafars and

gaddars".

"They (old BJP workers) are now crying sitting at home," she had said.

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