Dilip Ghosh, the Bengal BJP chief in the middle of a political storm over his “protesters should be shot like dogs” comment, has been put in charge of the state party unit for another term. The decision comes eight months after the Lok Sabha elections, in which the BJP delivered a spectacular performance, winning 18 of the state’s 42 seats.
This was the party’s big victory in the state — it the 2014 general elections, it just won two seats in the state. The BJP is hoping to wrest the state from the ruling Trinamool Congress in the next assembly election.
This would be Dilip Ghosh’s second term as the Bengal BJP chief. A former functionary of the BJP’s ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, he will lead the party till 2023.
Summing up a conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Dilip Ghosh today said: “PM asked, how many members? I said one crore. We have delivered 98 lakh. From 17 per cent votes, we have crossed 40 per cent votes. We have won 18 seats and come second. In panchayat polls, we were beaten. I said we will not leave the field. We took revenge in the Lok Sabha polls.”
Dilip Ghosh is embroiled in a controversy over his comment about people protesting against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act.
At a public meeting in Bengal’s Nadia on Sunday, Dilip Ghosh had criticised Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee “for not opening fire and ordering a lathi-charge” on protesters destroying railway property and public transport.
“Who do they think the public property that they are destroying belongs to? Their father? Public property belongs to the taxpayers… You will come here, eat our food, stay here and damage public property. Is it your zamindari? We will bash you with lathis, shoot you and put you in jail,” Mr Ghosh had said.
His comments have created an uproar and has even been criticised by party colleague and Union minister Babul Supriyo. But Dilip Ghosh has not apologised.
“What I have said was said after thinking it through,” Dilip Ghosh said, alleging police atrocities during the rule of the Congress, Left and the Trinamool Congress.
“In West Bengal, in the Naxalite period, Siddharth Shankar Ray killed many young men, shot them in the back. Those who cheered him on those days are now talking about ahimsa (non-violence)? Have they become old and has their blood cooled?” he said.
Siddharth Shankar Ray was the state’s Congress Chief Minister from 1972 to 1977, at the height of the Naxal movement.
Citing police violence against the Gorkhaland supporters in Darjeeling in more rent times, he added, “Mamata went to Darjeeling and said ‘Jo hamse takrayega chur chur ho jayega’.
Eleven Gorkhas were killed in police firing. Communists killed six Forward Block members and many refugees at Morirjhapi”.