The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday replaced its candidate Ashok Lahiri, the former chief economic advisor to the central government, from the Alipurduar seat in north Bengal after district party workers held a protest against his candidature, reported NDTV. Lahiri was replaced by Suman Kanjilal in the list of candidates for the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth phases of the West Bengal Assembly elections.

The local party leaders said they considered Lahiri an “outsider”. Unidentified officials said that the economist was expected to be named in the later list of candidates fielded by the BJP. The party is yet to announce candidates for five seats – Darjeeling, Balurghat, Rashbehari, Kurseong and Kalimpong.

Unidentified officials told NDTV that Lahiri was removed from the Alipurduar seat as there was a conflict of caste interests. He will most likely be fielded from Balurghat in the South Dinajpur district.

“I have no comments to make, the party should answer,” Lahiri told ThePrint.

The BJP had publicised Lahiri’s candidature as it has been fielding eminent citizens and known urban Bengali faces. So far, it has fielded several artistes, a scientist and five MPs, one of them being Union minister Babul Supriyo.

The saffron party has faced problems from its local workers after it fielded leaders who joined the BJP after quitting the Trinamool Congress. On Monday, protests broke out at several places, including its election office in Kolkata, where police resorted to the use of batons to control the situation. Angry supporters had heckled senior party leaders Mukul Roy, Arjun Singh and Shiv Prakash.

BJP workers had also ransacked a party office in Panchla seat in Howrah district, where TMC turncoat Mohitlal Ghati was given the ticket.

The elections to the 294 seats in West Bengal will be held in eight phases from March 27 to April 29. The results will be announced on May 2.