Eye on 2021 WB assembly polls, BJP re-elects Dilip Ghosh as state chief

(With detail) Kolkata, Jan 16 (PTI) With just a year left for the assembly poll in West Bengal, the BJP on Thursday re-elected Dilip Ghosh, who is credited for the growth of saffron camp in the state and also under fire for his recent controversial remarks, as its President signaling its intent to take on its rivals on a hardline plank in the electoral battle.

Known for taking the party to a high trajectory of growth in the state in his first term as the party's state chief in the last four years, Ghosh was the only nominee for the post and was elected unopposed for 2020-2023 at the state committee meeting here, party sources said.

BJP national general secretary Murlidhar Rao handed over the election certificate to Ghosh whose return to helm the party in Bengal came just days after his controversial remark that anti-CAA protesters 'were shot like dogs' in BJP- ruled states drew sharp criticism both from the opposition and his party men.

During Ghosh's first tenure as its state president, BJP has witnessed a meteoric rise in West Bengal with the party bagging an unprecedented 18 out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats.

After his re-election, Ghosh said 'I will continue to fight and won't stop till BJP forms the next government in West Bengal...The party will not concede an inch in Bengal and I will fight till the end,' Ghosh said.

'I have always stood by the party's dedicated workers and will continue to do so. I will finish all my pending tasks as the state president of BJP,' he added.

Ghosh will lead his party in the upcoming civic polls in the state in 109 municipal bodies, inlcuding in the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, scheduled to be held in April this year.

The civic polls are being called the mini assembly polls.

Ghosh hit back at the opposition for its criticism of his contentious remarks indicating that he would brazen it out.

'There are a few people who are criticising me for my comments. I want to make myself clear that the time has come for BJP (to form the government in Bengal). Earlier, they (parties opposed to BJP) used to speak and we listened, now we will speak and they will listen, he said.

Ghosh, known for his uncomprising approach as an opposition leader, has time and again said 'If you live in the jungle you have to live like a jungle man or else you won't survive'.

According to state BJP sources, Ghosh's re-election reaffirms the confidence the party's top brass has in him in steering the partys state unit in the assembly polls.

'The next West Bengal assembly poll will be the most crucial one for us. With just a year left for it, the party top leadership felt that they need a leader like Dilip Ghosh to lead the state unit. Despite his controversial remarks, his credit in the growth of the party cannot be taken away,' a senior BJP leader said.

Known for his organising skills, Ghosh is very popular among the rank file of BJP for his affable nature.

Ghosh's controversial comments had not gone down well either with the opposition parties or with leaders from his own party. He, however, remained unnerved and did not retract.

In November, 2019 he had said there are traces of gold in the milk of Indian cows, a comment which too had courted controversy. Ghosh, However, stuck to it.

Speaking about the re-election of Ghosh, Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said it reflects the endorsement of the 'Hindutva hard line' by BJP top brass in Bengal.

'The kind of comments Ghosh had made in the last few years clearly indicate that he endorses the Hindutva hard line. So his re-election clearly shows that BJP top brass is endorsing his political line in Bengal,' Chowdhury told reporters.

His views were echoed by senior CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty.

Senior TMC leader Tapas Roy said, 'It is an internal matter of the BJP as to who should be its state president. But I feel BJP should keep a tab on the kind of statements Dilip Ghosh is making everyday,' Tapas Roy said.

Union Minister Babul Supriyo, who had recently criticised Ghosh for his controversial comments too congratulated Ghosh on his re election.

Ghosh was first appointed the state BJP president in December 2015. Though his term ended in December 2018, he was asked to continue for a year due to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in which he won the Midnapore seat.

55-year-old Ghosh, an old RSS hand, was deputed to the party in 2015 and was elected MLA from Kharagpur Sadar seat in 2016. But he resigned as MLA after being elected MP from Midnapore Lok Sabha seat in the 2019 parliamentary polls. PTI PNT KK KK KK