After a controversial Trinamool MLA in the Birbhum district joined it, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has revised its recruitment policy in West Bengal on advice from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a senior party leader told The Hindu. Now any induction — other than that of very senior leaders — will be conducted only after a screening at the RSS Mandal level. Ten to 15 wards form a Mandal, and the RSS monitors these hyper-local units of its organisational structure closely. Besides BJP workers, the Mandals usually have RSS activists as well.
The Mandals will carry out the initial screening and send their recommendation to the BJP’s district committees. Till now, cadre of other parties approached the BJP’s top leaders and directly joining the party. Now, cadre of other parties will be inducted only after they are cleared by the respective Mandals. The decision was taken at the highest level and induction will now be “reasonably restricted”, the senior BJP leader said. However, there is no plan to call a halt to the induction or membership drive.
The induction of Manirul Islam, a history-sheeter in the Birbhum district, shook up the RSS and BJP’s old-timers in Bengal. A large number of ordinary people and Trinamool cadre joined the BJP to escape Mr. Islam’s wrath. Mr. Islam secured admission after his negotiation with BJP leader Mukul Roy.
Complaint to Shah
The BJP’s Birbhum district committee categorically said that it was “not happy” with the decision to induct Mr. Islam. The complaint was conveyed by the RSS to Kailash Vijayvargiya, BJP in charge of West Bengal, and to party president Amit Shah.
Following the development, RSS’ Mandals are now empowered to put all the names together and do “a screening” of the new entrants. Recently, in Howrah district, the BJP inducted about 700 new members, but also dropped about 100 potential members after screening them.
Over the last one month, pressure was internally mounted on the BJP, following Mr. Islam’s induction. Swastika, the RSS mouthpiece in Bengal, said in an article in its June 10 issue that in order to “dislodge the Trinamool, outsiders with no credibility are inducted indiscriminately. They are like rats leaving a sinking ship.”
The cover story of June 17 edition, titled ‘To what extent will BJP be able to control benojwol (floodwater)’, was more scathing. The June 17 article asked whether it was reasonable to induct Mr. Islam, who “changes colour like a chameleon”. The article applauded former TMC leader Mukul Roy for weakening the TMC, but also underscored that Mr. Roy’s “excessive confidence [in weakening the TMC] has indicated that he is a politician without foresight”.
“Trouble was spelt when he [Mukul Roy] inducted Manirul Islam. He did not realise that the BJP and RSS, who are dependent on people’s vote, would not accept Roy’s decision to induct Islam,” who is described as “notorious…lumpen of TMC” by the mouthpiece.
“He [Mukul Roy] has never led a cadre-driven political party” and that’s what has triggered the problem, Swastika concluded. Moreover, the BJP has also not included the name of Manirul Islam in the list of their new MLAs, submitted to Assembly speaker Biman Bandopadhyay.
“The party will decide about MLAs who came from other parties. We have prepared the list of those who have won the recent by-election,” said Manoj Tigga, the BJP’s new Leader in the Assembly.
However, the party’s leaders did not accept that the new screening policy could be a part of an ongoing differences between Mukul Roy and the BJP’s old-timers. A senior leader explained that in order to grow, the BJP also needs to induct outsiders.
“We need people from other parties to strengthen the BJP, while weakening the TMC. So neither the RSS nor the BJP is averse to inducting outsiders from other parties. However, some screening has to be done,” the leader said.
Interestingly, it is Manirul Islam’s entry into the BJP that has triggered this change in policy.