BJP Supporters shout slogans to show dislike at the party office, in Kolkata on Monday.
BJP Supporters shout slogans to show dislike at the party office, in Kolkata on Monday.
Photo: ANI

For several years now, BJP and TMC leaders in West Bengal have been at loggerheads. And with mere weeks left before the Assembly elections, it is not unusual to see leaders from the two political parties taking potshots at each other. But what does one do when their opponent defects to their camp?

In recent days there has been series of politicians who have switched parties. Former TMC heavyweight Suvendu Adhikari's switch to the Opposition camp may have created headlines across the country, but it is certainly not the extent of it. Over the last few months dozens of TMC politicians, MLAs and supporters have joined the BJP - a fact that has been underscored gleefully by the other party.

But things recently took a problematic turn as the BJP released its second list of poll candidates for the multi-phased Assembly elections. The inclusion of several TMC turncoats, including those who had joined the party only a few days ago, has not gone down well with many.

As newcomers are welcomed into the party fold with poll tickets, many old-timers have expressed dissatisfaction. And while some are furious about missing out on tickets themselves, others are angered by the fact that those who had previously tried to restrict the BJP were now being touted as it's representatives. From Mohitlal Ghati's candidature in Panchla to sitting MLA Rabindranath Bhattacharya's nomination from Singur - the list is rather long.

"Santanu Bapuli was involved in attacks mounted on us, he had tried to crush the BJP," a party supporter said during a protest in the Raidighi assembly segment of South 24 Parganas. Around a hundred BJP supporters held demonstrations all day in protest against the nomination of the TMC defector .

In north Bengal, agitators took to the streets to oppose the nominations of former chief economic adviser to the government, Ashok Lahiri, from Alipurduar and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha turncoat Bishal Lama from Kalchini.

"We don't know who is this Ashok Lahiri and why was he nominated. Old-timers from Alipurduar are being ignored...Bishal Lama joined the party just two days ago and he was nominated. Local BJP workers will never accept this," a saffron party leader, who did not wish to be named told news agency PTI.

Irate activists broke guard rails and demonstrated in front of the BJP's Hastings office to stop party national vice president Mukul Roy and senior party leader Arjun Singh from entering its premises. A section of the demonstrators even banged on the bonnet of Roy's car and threatened to storm the office, as the police faced a difficult time controlling them.

But even as poll tickets become a bone of contention among the BJP, it is also one of the main reasons why TMC leaders continue to switch allegiances. But unlike those mentioned above, it does not always end well for the politicians in question.

Former Kolkata Mayor and TMC leader Sovan Chattopadhyay had quit the party in 2019, joining the BJP alongside his close friend Baisakhi Banerjee. Now, they are back in news headlines after having quit the BJP. Reportedly, the two had been denied tickets for the upcoming polls.

(With inputs from agencies)

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