West Bengal BJP MP wants separate State for Jangalmahal region

A day after Barrackpore MP Arjun Singh broke ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and returned to the Trinamool Congress (TMC), another party MP, Saumitra Khan, on Monday embarrassed the party by demanding that a separate State be carved out of West Bengal’s Jangalmahal region.

The forested patch of Purulia, Bankura, Paschim Medinipur and Jhargram, located in the southwestern part of the State, is referred to as the Jangalmahal region, and the Bishnupur MP has raked up the issue at a time when the BJP is grappling with defections and electoral setbacks in West Bengal.

The division of the State is an emotive issue and the Darjeeling hills have witnessed violence spanning decades over the demand for the creation of a separate State of Gorkhaland.  While the demand for a separate State in north Bengal is raised at regular intervals, there has not been much talk on a separate State being carved out of south Bengal. The remarks by the BJP MP were criticised by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) leadership. A section of observers feels that Mr. Khan’s statement is a considered attempt to generate media attention and become a talking point. 

Meanwhile, leaders of the West Bengal BJP held a meeting during the day to discuss how to keep the party’s flock together and address grievances. The leaders present at the meeting were BJP State president Sukanta Majumdar, Leader of Opposition in West Bengal Assembly Suvendu Adhikari, and the party’s co-in-charge Amit Malviya. The party also discussed the challenge of ensuring appointments in Barrackpore, where Mr. Singh’s defection has resulted in a void. There is also lot of speculation that Pawan Kumar Singh, Arjun Singh’s son and BJP MLA from Bhatpara, will also switch sides and join the TMC in the days to come. “It’s quite natural that Pawan Singh will leave the party as his father has jumped the ship. Those who fought at the grassroots level in the State to take it from a party of just three MLAs to 77 MLAs are still with us. A few opportunist leaders are deserting us,” BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh said.

Leaders like Anupam Hazra, the BJP’s national secretary, said it was “laughable” if the party puts on a brave face and says Mr. Arjun Singh defection will not affect the party’s prospects in the State. “This casual approach is going to get us nothing. We have to stop saying that all is well in the party,” Mr. Hazra said. 

Mr. Arjun Singh’s defection is one of a series of defections for the BJP. The list includes Mukul Roy, Babul Supriyo, Rajib Banerjee and Sabyasachi Dutta, along with half a dozen of MLAs who won the Assembly polls on a BJP ticket.

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Printable version | May 23, 2022 9:04:42 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/west-bengal-bjp-mp-wants-separate-state-for-jangalmahal-region/article65454303.ece