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Suvendu Adhikari appointed leader of opposition in Bengal Assembly: What it means for the future of BJP in the state

While it is far far too early to say whether Adhikari will prove to be another Himanta Biswa Sarma for the BJP, it has to be conceded that he has all the right credentials to emerge as one.

Suvendu Adhikari has been appointed the leader of the opposition in West Bengal. The BJP MLA from Bengal defeated Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee from Nandigram in the hotly contested assembly elections in the state. He had only recently joined the BJP from the Trinamool Congress in December last year.

The appointment of Suvendu Adhikari as the leader of the opposition in the West Bengal Assembly will have deep ramifications for the future of the party in the state. It will significantly strengthen the BJP in areas where they have been lacking so far.

Local Face

One of the most prominent factors believed to have affected BJP’s fortunes in the state is the lack of local leaders who could match Banerjee’s stature in Bengal politics. While the BJP did have popular leaders, it did not have any that came close to matching Banerjee’s stature.

With the elevation of Suvendu Adhikari to the position, that is set to change. He defeated Mamata Banerjee in his bastion and managed to hold his ground in an election that saw the Trinamool Congress sweep the entire state.

Furthermore, with Adhikari, the BJP has someone that understands the street politics of Bengal and how the game is played. His victory from Nandigram was also significant for the party as the party now had a strong base outside of North Bengal going forward.

In a time of deep crisis, it was one of the few bright spots for the party and Adhikari could serve as a leader the party workers could rally around.

Reduced influence of Central BJP leaders

A prominent grouse that has surfaced in the aftermath of the BJP’s defeat is the fact that the party’s campaign had too much of an influence from the central leadership of the party. Observers appointed by the central leadership of the party have come under criticism for not enough awareness about the realities of Bengal politics.

Tathagata Roy, former Governor of Tripura and Meghalaya, had directly blamed Kailash Vijarvargiya and Dilip Ghosh among others for sullying the reputation of the central leadership of the party. He had hurled the choicest insults at them and held them responsible for the party’s insipid performance.

With Adhikari at the helm, that is set to change. While it is likely that Dilip Ghosh will continue to remain as the state party president, the Ghosh-Adhikari duo could function as the ‘double-engine’ of the party in Bengal.

Giantslayer

Suvendu Adhikari has significantly augmented his stature in Bengal politics after defeating Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram. The tag of ‘Giantslayer’ will stick with him going forward. His work for the next five years is cut out.

Adhikari must expand his base from Medinipur and develop a pan-Bengal appeal through extensive campaigning. He has many thing working for him. He is a mass leader, has a strong base and now has a larger than life image.

But that means that certain things will change within the BJP as well. There was the impression that too many people within the party were trying too many things and too many cooks spoilt the broth. Adhikari, an iron fisted leader, will look to straighten things out.

While it is far far too early to say whether Adhikari will prove to be another Himanta Biswa Sarma for the BJP, it has to be conceded that he has all the right credentials to emerge as one.

BJP has taken the right inputs

The decision shows that the central leadership of the party has taken the right inputs. It was a bold decision to appoint Adhikari the leader of the opposition in the Assembly considering other leaders who have been in the BJP much longer.

But it also has to be admitted that the BJP did not really have a choice in the matter. Suvendu Adhikari is the most prominent leader among its elected representatives and has to be given his due. Going forward, the Bengal unit of the party will see a much reduced influence from observers appointed by the center and the state party unit will have much greater leeway to pursue avenues it deems fit.

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K Bhattacharjee
Black Coffee Enthusiast. Post Graduate in Psychology. Bengali.

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