Lok Sabha member Arjun Singh skips BJP's mega rally in Kolkata
Kolkata, May 2 (IANS) Is Arjun Singh, BJP's heavyweight Lok Sabha member from Barrackpore in West Bengal, distancing himself from the party activities?
Speculations on this count were making the rounds for the last few days after Singh demanded a rollback of the Centre's decision to cap the price of raw jute at Rs 6,500 per quintal.
And they gained further ground on Monday afternoon after Singh skipped BJP's mega rally in Kolkata, organised to protest against the state government on various issues.
Arjun Singh had recently gone to New Delhi where he met Union Textiles Minister Piyush Goel, and all expected that the rift between Singh and his party was over. Singh even posted a picture of his meeting with Goyel on social media.
However, his absence from BJP's mega rally on Monday caused more embarrassment for the party, especially before Union Home Minister Amit Shah's three-day visit to the state from May 4 to 6.
Strict instruction was issued to all BJP MPs and MLAs from the state to attend the rally. While all the others were present, Singh's absence raised quite a few eyebrows.
BJP sources said that the party's state unit chief Sukanata Majumdar tried to contact Singh a number of times before the rally started on Monday afternoon. However, Singh's phone was switched off.
Majumdar refused to make any comment on this issue till the time this report was filed. Several attempts made by IANS to contact Singh for his comments failed as his mobile phone remained switched off even an hour after the rally ended.
Other top leaders of the party, including the party's national vice-president and MP Dilip Ghosh and leader of opposition in the West Bengal Assembly Suvendu Adhikari were present at the rally.
Last year on this day, the results of the Assembly elections were declared, in whcih Trinamool Congress was voted to power for the third consecutive term.
The state BJP chose this date to organise the protest rally, which the saffron camp described as the "first anniversary of deteriorating law & order situation, rape of women, corruption and post-poll violence".
Singh was a four-time Trinamool Congress legislator from Bhatpara Assembly constituency in North 24 Parganas district. However, before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, he left the Trinamool and joined the BJP.
He contested from Barrackpore Lok Sabha constituency in 2019 and got elected by defeating Trinamool candidate Dinesh Trivedi by a margin of around 15,000 votes.