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In Battlefield Bengal, Arjun Leaves BJP's Side, Returns to Old Friend Trinamool Congress​

News18 logo News18 22-05-2022 Kamalika Sengupta
In Battlefield Bengal, Arjun Leaves BJP's Side, Returns to Old Friend Trinamool Congress​ © Provided by News18 In Battlefield Bengal, Arjun Leaves BJP's Side, Returns to Old Friend Trinamool Congress​

It all started with the price of jute and ended with ‘ghar wapsi’ for MP Arjun Singh. The ‘Bahubali’ leader who joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) before 2019 and returned to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Sunday, saying “all my demands were not fulfilled”.

Singh represents Barrackpur, which is part of the “jute belt” of Bengal. As the maximum price of jute was capped at Rs 6,500 per quintal, artificial demand was generated. Consequently, the supply stumbled and led to the closure of 14 jute mills.

After the 2021 Assembly elections, sources say, Singh started to realise that nothing was happening in the BJP. He was of the opinion that the price ceiling would affect mill workers and MSMEs. The BJP’s base in 2019, too, was gone.

The price issue was pinching Singh and so were the organisational issues in the BJP.

WAY BACK

Singh started with writing to and meeting textile minister Piyush Goyal. Sources say he was subsequently trying to talk with the TMC too. Singh also wrote a letter to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and sought her intervention. He also communicated this to other CMs.

Amid all this, the BJP MP skipped the party’s Sankalp Yatra which escalated the buzz of his possible return to the TMC.

His strategy was to pressure the BJP and remove the jute price cap and secure his vote bank by taking credit for it.

Sources also say that the BJP persuaded him in every way. On Thursday evening, the Central government came up with a notice of withdrawal of the price cap for the fibre, a decision that has significant political ramifications.

Sources in the BJP said the action was taken to retain Singh, as after a meeting with JP Nadda last week, the Lok Sabha lawmaker told reporters that the coming 15 days would determine whether he would stay in the BJP.

Still, the BJP could not hold him back as Singh felt that he would not be able to win representing the BJP.

Dilip Ghosh, vice-president of the BJP, said, “A lot of importance was given to him. We don’t have the numbers, otherwise the BJP would have given the CM’s post. Now, he knows what he has done.”

Experts say with this blow, the BJP will now have to rethink how to keep its flock together.

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