In Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) a six-year stint as party president is quite long, be that at the national or state level. So, it is not surprising that the ‘high-command’ of the BJP decided to replace 57-year old Dilip Ghosh after a six-year stint with 41-year-old Lok Sabha member Sukanta Majumdar, the youngest to hold the post in the state.
Sukanta too, like Dilip Ghosh, was with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological mentor of the BJP. Ghosh had started working with RSS in 1984. Before being loaned to the BJP, Ghosh was a pracharak and had worked extensively in the Andamans after it was hit by the Tsunami in 2004. Ghosh was sent to Bengal BJP in 2014 and just a year later, in 2015, was appointed the state president. In 2019, under his leadership, BJP emerged big in Bengal for the first time by winning 18 out of 42 seats.
The success rate was almost halved during the assembly election, and now a much younger person has been given charge of the state unit two-and-a-half .year before the next Lok Sabha elections. He has started on a solid foundation as in the last three years the BJP has usurped almost the entire opposition space in Bengal.
But appointing an inexperienced Sukanta as state president, the central leadership has also cleared the path of Suvendu Adhikari, the present leader of the opposition, to emerge stronger in Bengal. The 50-year-old Suvendu was younger than Dilip Ghosh but is almost a decade older than the new state president. As a TMC leader, Suvendu was in charge of several districts of South Bengal, and according to insiders he will now be given de facto charge of those districts where TMC is still strong. It means half of the seats of the assembly or the Lok Sabha will come under his direct control.
Dilip Ghosh will assist the new president in the rest of the seats. But Sukanta is an MP of Balurghat, and North Bengal is his own domain. So, together these two RSS men will try to keep in control the western and northern parts of Bengal that stood solidly with the BJP in 2019, but somewhat slipped out in 2021.
However, more important for the BJP is those seats that could not be dented either in 2019 or 2021. Amit Shah, the Union Home Minister is in regular touch with Suvendu for the last three months, and perhaps is trying to build a politico-administrative strategy for Bengal. It is believed that Suvendu was consulted by Shah before finalising the change in the party organisation.
Again, unlike Suvendu, Ghosh was not harping on staunch Hindutva line even on the cases of post-poll violence in Bengal. But the new president has started by saying his party will not allow Bengal to become Afghanistan. It seems now both Suvendu and Sukanta will carry forward the Hindutva agenda in Bengal.
(The author Diptendra Raychaudhuri is a senior journalist based in Kolkata. He has a wide range of experience in covering West Bengal politics and has authored several books)