Why did JP Nadda remove former TMC MP Anupam Hazra as BJP national secy?

Known for his critical stance towards the Bengal BJP unit, Hazra had voiced dissent over the party's decisions and policies in the state for the past two years

Anupam Hazra (right) with 'mentor' JP Nadda (photo: anupam.hajra.71/ Facebook)
Anupam Hazra (right) with 'mentor' JP Nadda (photo: anupam.hajra.71/ Facebook)

NH Digital

In a not-so-surprise move, BJP national president JP Nadda on Tuesday removed West Bengal leader Anupam Hazra from the post of the party's national secretary. A former Trinamool Congress (TMC) Lok Sabha MP from Bolpur, Hazra had been critical of the party's functioning in the state for some time.

The BJP's decision coincided with Nadda and Union home minister Amit Shah's visit to Kolkata for a host of political programmes, and Hazra's removal from his post is being seen as a message to dissidents within the party to stick to organisational discipline and toe the leadership's line.

Hours after his removal as BJP national secretary, Hazra asserted in a cryptic social media post in Bengali that he had received a message indicating "reinstatement upon acceptance of certain conditions".

This coincides with speculation among certain quarters that the BJP national leadership had finally decided to pull the plug on Hazra's perceived anti-party activities, such as his Facebook post on 23 December calling for a "BJP free of thieves", and implying that a few BJP leaders in the state were extorting money from those wishing to attend a 'Gita paath (recitation)' session in Kolkata.

Already known for his critical stance toward the Bengal BJP unit, the PhD in social work had voiced his dissent over the party's decisions and policies in the state for the past two years. On 24 December, he wrote a Facebook post as part of a series calling upon the state's "deprived" BJP workers to gather at his 'stall' at Santiniketan's famed Poush Mela.

On 2 December, he wrote on X: "Today is the Birthday of a very very special person of my political journey - who always stood beside me during my every political and personal crisis as well - SIR Sri @JPNadda ji. Grateful to him always; Just pray for his long and healthy life."

However, following his removal, his posts in Bengali on both FB and X read, "I received a message three hours after my removal stating that everything would return to normal if I agreed to specific conditions."

Speaking to the media in West Bengal, Hazra said, "I am heading to the Himalayas for a two-day vacation. Upon my return on the third day, I will express my thoughts."

The decision to relieve him of his post was announced late on Tuesday night, hours after Nadda and Shah concluded their day-long whirlwind tour of the state to assess the party's readiness for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Hazra was notably absent from the organisational meetings chaired by Shah and Nadda, though it remains unclear whether he was invited to these gatherings, and though he diligently reposted X posts from both Nadda and Shah's handles regarding the visit.

While refraining from commenting on his removal, Hazra, who joined the BJP in 2019, received support from his former party, with TMC MP Satabdi Roy saying, "He did the right thing by exposing corruption and mismanagement within the Bengal BJP."

The West Bengal BJP declined to comment on the decision, attributing it to the central leadership. BJP state spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya, known for his clashes with Hazra, said, "The party had bestowed responsibilities upon him and has now relieved him of those. What more can we say?"

Another state BJP leader said the central leadership's decision was a message against dissidents within the party. "Despite numerous warnings, Hazra continued making remarks against the state leadership, causing embarrassment to the party. Thus, the party decided to take action," said the BJP leader, who refused to be named.

Last year, former BJP state president Dilip Ghosh, who was also critical of the Bengal BJP leadership, was removed from the post of the party's national vice-president.

Over the past year, the BJP in Bengal has grappled with internal strife and protests, primarily owing to organisational changes implemented across various parts of the state.

After the party's 2021 assembly poll defeat, the state unit has been working to maintain cohesion, especially since several prominent figures, including former Union minister Babul Supriyo, influential party MP Arjun Singh, and seven legislators shifted to the TMC following the assembly elections, in which the BJP had initially won 77 seats but lost two in subsequent by-polls, reducing its official tally to 75.

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