BJP’s top leaders step in as protests over tickets to defectors turn violent

Protests over the BJP’s choice of candidates rocked Bengal for the third day on Tuesday, with many party activists staging demonstration outside the party’s election office here, and others hurling stones at some of the nominees, prompting police action.

Several saffron party workers clashed with the police, when they were stopped from gheraoing candidates who were about to enter the party office to meet their seniors. Through the day, the BJP sought to contain the protests after many workers alleged that old-timers of the Sangh Parivar had been ignored to accommodate defectors from other parties.

On Sunday, the BJP had announced candidates for 63 out of 75 seats that are set to go to the polls on April 6 and April 10. The list included defectors from the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC), actors and the party’s own MPs.

On Tuesday, people demanding a change in Canning West, Magrahat, Kultali, Joynagar and Bishnupur candidates were seen protesting outside the party office.

Party leaders that ET spoke with said this was expected and that the party had already told its district units to contain the resentment and not let it spread to Kolkata. On Tuesday, BJP leaders were seen meeting small representations of select candidates to listen to their grievances. Union minister Amit Shah, who had landed in Kolkata to stay the night on his way from Guwahati to Delhi, had held a meeting with BJP chief JP Nadda and senior party leaders regarding the ongoing protests, said people aware of the matter.

In Kerala too, a BJP leader on Tuesday slammed the state leadership of the party, alleging they were not interested in winning the election as weak candidates have been fielded in seats where the party had a good chance to win in the April 6 polls. Attacking the leadership, R Balashankar claimed he was denied ticket from Chengannur even after being given an assurance to the same earlier.

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