If there is one thing that is guaranteed during elections, it is the resignation, anger, and blame-games of leaders who do not get tickets from their parties. Two-time MLA from Silchar and former deputy speaker of Assam legislative assembly Dilip Kumar Paul is no different. Paul resigned from the BJP before the election, thereby ending his four-decade-long relationship with the saffron party. The party has seen rebellions in the wake of the candidate list, but while Himanta Biswa Sarma managed to calm down others, he could not do the same with Paul.
Despite being a two-time MLA, Paul got snubbed by the BJP for the 2021 elections. BJP general secretary Arun Singh announced that Dipayan Chakraborty would be the new face of the BJP from Silchar. The decision shocked Paul, who had performed well in the last two elections. He defeated Congress’ Arun Dutta Mazumdar in the 2014 by-poll by a margin of 37,441 votes. In the 2016 Legislative Assembly Elections, Paul’s vote-share increased as he got 94,787 votes against Congress’ Bithika Dev, who got 54,867 votes.
But Paul did not quit the BJP silently. He tried to ‘expose’ issues, including how some BJP leaders were involved with syndicates involved in illegal activities. “So many faces in the party are involved in illegal syndicates, earning a lot of money. I tried to oppose them when I was in the party to an extent, but I failed to expose them. I feel bad for Sarbananda Sonowalm because he is a good man, but it seems he is helpless in the party now.”
“We saw leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani, and Sushma Swaraj when we joined the BJP. Our ideologies were that of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay. But today, many have joined the BJP for power, and they are trying to sideline seniors. Unfortunately, these people are deciding who will contest in the election and who will not. This is not the BJP we worked for. Hence I decided to quit the party and contest the election as an independent candidate to save our ideology.”
Paul also took aim at Silchar MP Rajdeep Roy. “My sources said that at one point, Rajdeep Roy threatened to quit the party if I got a ticket. Roy is a Member of Parliament so the party respected his words and sacrificed my efforts. But there is another reason behind this. The distribution of ticket in the Cachar district shows a sharp role of the syndicate. I was the only obstacle against the syndicate and their illegal operations, so they removed me,” he added.
Referring to Dilip Kumar Paul’s allegations, MP Rajdeep Roy said, “We are all loyal to the party. In the past, I too was snubbed by the party but I did not revolt. If Dilip Babu had so many complaints, he could have mentioned them earlier. Now there is no point in saying these things before the election. He has lost his way somewhere in the middle, but I do hope he regains his senses and returns.”
Sarbananda Sonowal visited Silchar on March 11, when all seven Cachar district candidates filed their nominations. When the media asked Sonowal about Paul’s resignation and his allegations of the ‘Syndicate Raj’, the Chief Minister did not reply.
Before Sarbananda Sonowal, NEDA chief Himanta Biswa Sharma also came to Silchar, but Dilip Kumar Paul refused to meet him. While addressing a gathering here, Sharma said, “We all are party workers first. For us, the nation and party are bigger than an individual. If the party has chosen Dipayan Chakraborty over Dilip Kumar Paul, Paul Dangoriya must support him.”
Himanta Biswa has managed to convince other BJP leaders who were denied tickets with the ‘party before the individual’ argument. Shiladitya Deb of Hojai is perhaps the biggest such name. But Dilip Kumar Paul is a senior BJP leader who is also a lifelong RSS follower. When Paul submitted his nomination on March 12 as an independent candidate, he was joined by many of his supporters. They raised slogans like ‘Khela Hobe’ ‘Syndicate Raj Go Back’ etc., Congress supporters also raised similar slogans while submitting his nomination. Paul has said that his direct fight is with the Congress candidate and not the BJP, but it remains to be seen which party he inflicts more damage upon.