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Trinamool replaced five candidates and another was disqualified by the Election Commission.

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In West Bengal, bitter infighting in the BJP is rivalled only by the confusion in the Trinamool Congress (TMC) both of which have resorted to last-minute changes of candidates ahead of the Assembly polls.

The BJP’s lack of organisation in South Bengal, which accounts for a majority of the seats in the State has led to the party weaning candidates away from the TMC which is straining to fill the gaps.

The TMC on Friday announced replacement for four of its candidates, at Kalyani, Aamdanga, Ashoknagar and Dubrajpur constituencies days ahead of the polls. While officially the TMC has not given a reason for these replacements, party insiders say discontent in local units was seen as a prime reason for the move. Of the four, there was anger against at least two candidates to the extent that many of the Trinamool local level leaders avoided party meetings and skipped campaigns.

Now, Aniruddha Biswas, will contest Kalyani constituency in place of his father Ramendra Nath; Narayan Goswami has replaced Dhiman Roy in Ashoknagar; Rafiqur Rehman comes in place of Mustaque Mortaza at Amdanga; and, Debabrata Saha will contest Dubrajpur replacing Ashima Dhibar.

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So far, Trinamool replaced five candidates (which include one switching over to BJP despite her candidature) and another was disqualified by the Election Commission.

The changes in Trinamool came a day after the BJP announced the candidature of local leader Suman Kanjilal for Alipurduar, replacing former Chief Economic Adviser, Ashok Lahiri. The move came after Kanjilal led protests against the ‘outsider’ Lahiri. Two candidates announced by the BJP later said they did not want to contest on a BJP ticket.

Between Sunday and Friday, there were protests against several BJP candidates, mostly by disgruntled party workers. BJP so far has not paid heed to most of these protests, except in this one case.

Compared to North Bengal – where the BJP claims to have better organisational strength; south Bengal areas – which account for majority of seats in West Bengal – are where BJP is relying more on Trinamool turncoats than the party’s organisation.

 

According to Bishwanath Chakraborty, poll analyst, there is a “top-down command system” that both the Trinamool and BJP’s Bengal unit are following, which has led to such dissidence coming to the forefront. He cites the example of “regimented parties” like the CPI(M), where there are no such reports of “open dissidence”.

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“Normally in regimented parties, protests over candidate lists are uncommon. That’s because leaders have their ears to the ground.In case of BJP, at least in Bengal, and for the Trinamool orders are coming from the top,” he told BusinessLine.

For instance, Trinamool turncoat Jitendra Tiwari – who switched camps multiple times (from TMC to BJP, then back to TMC and finally BJP) saw protests against him by the BJP at Padaveswar after his name was announced on Friday. The BJP old-guards in the region, including Union Minister Babul Supriyo, are known to be his bitter rivals. In a bid to stem discontent, the BJP top brass pitched Supriyo’s nomination in Kolkata’s Tollygunge area, so as to keep party factions away, say sources.

Similarly, BJP’s Swapan Dasgupta, saw some protests at Tarakeshwar, that was subsequently dealt with by the party top brass.

“The problem is, there has been too many inductions in BJP. Now it’s a Trinamool versus Trinamool (who joined BJP) fight, and then, there is an old BJP (RSS-backed) versus new BJP (inductees) playing out within the BJP,” Chakraborty said.

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