TMC head and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s former confidante Mukul Roy today stirred speculation that he might be contemplating leaving the BJP and going back to the party he had come from when all posters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi disappeared from his New Delhi residence overnight. Known for his election management skills, Roy had joined the BJP in 2017 and has since made thousands of TMC workers desert their party and follow in his footsteps to the saffron party.
A former union minister from the TMC, Mukul Roy is an accused in the Saradha Ponzi scam. It was speculated during his defection that he must be joining the party ruling at the Centre to prevail upon them to not let loose the CBI in his trail.
Roy travelled the length and breadth of West Bengal in 2019, campaigning for the BJP, whose victory in 18 of 42 Lok Sabha seats is partially credited to his hard work (the greater factor being Banerjee’s Islamism creating a Hindu backlash).
For all the recognition of astuteness that Roy gets backstage, the BJP did not find him fit enough to bear an office in the party. He is a member of the BJP’s central committee alright, but his followers often call up Sirf News, complaining that the central leadership of the organisation pays heed more to the feedback from Bengal unit president Dilip Ghosh, which they do not concur with.
A source said on national television, “TMC leaders have been in touch with Mukul Roy and visited him too. He has organizational skills and is not on best terms with the BJP…so there is a possibility of him considering a ghar wapsi.”
Mukul Roy left for Delhi this week with Sabyasachi Dutta, a TMC leader and former mayor of the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation. It was Roy who had brought Dutta to the BJP from the TMC.
Thereafter, while the state BJP leadership spent days in Delhi for a series of meetings on the 2021 Bengal assembly election, Mukul Roy stayed put in Kolkata.
He had an alibi, though. Mukul Roy said he had returned for an appointment at a hospital for treatment of his eyes in Kolkata. He said further the party had not informed him about the number of days he had to stay in Delhi for the meetings.
It was noticed today that the facade of his 181 South Avenue address in Delhi bore no poster of Modi or Home Minister Amit Shah anymore, lending more credence to the rumours that his days in the BJP were numbered.
Sources in the TMC say Mukul Roy has been in touch with them since March this year.
While Roy did attend a meeting with Kailash Vijayvargiya in Kolkata on Wednesday, sources say that some acrimony in that meeting widened the gulf between the favoured and marginalised factions in the party. But Mukul Roy denies it, saying the BJP leadership had given him significant responsibilities in panchayat and Lok Sabha elections and 2021 will be no different — sounding as though he was enjoying the job, satisfied with whatever role the party leadership has kept him restricted to!
Functionaries in the central leadership of the BJP concede they are uncomfortable with the prospect of a greater role of Mukul Roy, which would blunt their attack on TMC’s “corrupt” regime as well as affect the investigation into his part in the ponzi scheme.
Meanwhile, general secretary Shivprakash has submitted a report to the party leadership that claims the BJP could win 190 out of 294 seats in Bengal if the assembly election is immediately held. While the Ghosh camp is bandying about this number, observers of Bengal politics find the figure grossly inflated. On the one hand, there are few who would give Roy a clean chit; on the other, there is a general consensus Ghosh is no match for the sheer tact and strategy of Roy.
Another recent addition to the BJP, former Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee has not been attending party meets either. While party sources said he could attend the meeting with the leadership on one of the days between 23 and 28 July, Dilip Ghosh said he had no idea about Chatterjee’s attendance.