Sukanta Majumdar’s appointment as MoS indicates change at Bengal BJP’s helm

Majumdar would need to be replaced as the party’s West Bengal chief; Suvendu Adhikari might be next in line, even as rumours swirl about the possibilities of the party picking a woman chief

Published - June 09, 2024 10:27 pm IST - Kolkata

West Bengal BJP President and Balurghat MP Sukanta Majumdar. File

West Bengal BJP President and Balurghat MP Sukanta Majumdar. File | Photo Credit: ANI

Two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MPs from West Bengal — Sukanta Majumdar from Balurghat and Shantanu Thakur from Bongaon — were on Sunday inducted in the Union Council of Ministers led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Out of 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal, the BJP has won 12 while 29 went to the Trinamool Congress and one to Congress.

While Bongaon MP and Matua leader, Mr. Thakur was Minister of State in the previous Modi government as well, Mr. Majumdar, a term MP from Balurghat and West Bengal BJP chief, has been inducted for the first time.

The inclusion of Mr. Majumdar in the Union Council of Ministers indicates that there will be a change in West Bengal BJP leadership. A PhD in Botany, Mr. Majumdar was appointed West Bengal BJP president in 2021 after the party failed to defeat the Trinamool Congress in the Assembly polls.

In the Lok Sabha polls this year, too, BJP fell short of Trinamool’s victory despite a high-pitched campaign. The saffron party registered a 38.73% vote share, whereas Trinamool’s share was 45.76%. Mr. Majumdar acknowledged that the new responsibility means he will have to relinquish his party post.

“I will take up whatever responsibility which party gives me. As loyal soldiers of the party, we do not pick up which front we fight,” he said.

Next steps

After the setback in the Lok Sabha polls, questions have been raised in the Bengal BJP leadership about changing key constituencies of sitting MPs, including Dilip Ghosh. Mr. Ghosh had publicly said that he lost the polls due to “back biting in the party”.

Before Mr. Majumdar, Mr. Ghosh had held the post of BJP State chief for six years. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP under Mr. Ghosh’s leadership had won 18 of the 42 seats.

Since Assembly polls in West Bengal are scheduled for 2026, a change in the party leadership would mean the new team will have only two years for the upcoming challenge.

Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari could be the frontrunner for the post of West Bengal BJP president. Speculations are also rife that the BJP leadership could put its bet on a woman leader to head the party in the State to take on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

A couple of Union Ministers of State from West Bengal in the last Modi government lost the recent polls, Nisith Pramanik from Coochbehar and Subhas Sarkar from Bankura. Since September 2012, when Trinamool withdrew support for the UPA II government led by Manmohan Singh, there has been no Cabinet Minister from the State of West Bengal.

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