Will Mukul Roy’s return strengthen Trinamool’s bid to break BJP in Bengal?

The question that is doing the rounds is what prompted the ‘Chanakya’ of Bengal politics to leave the BJP and join his old political party?
Mukul Roy
BJP leader Mukul Roy with his son rejoined TMC

Kolkata, June 11 : Trinamool Congress Chief Mamata Banerjee made it clear on Friday that not only Mukul Roy, but there are many more leaders who will be joining the ruling party soon, making it obvious that the Trinamool will make every effort to break the BJP in West Bengal.

In a big blow to the BJP, its all-India Vice President and MLA Mukul Roy joined the Trinamool Congress on Friday along with his son Subhrangshu Roy, almost four years after deserting the Trinamool camp for the saffron camp.

Banerjee, who was present at the Trinamool Bhavan when Roy returned to the party fold, said that more people will come out of the BJP and join the Trinamool Congress soon.

And Roy, who has mastered the art of negotiations for years, might just fit into Banerjee’s political designs.

The question that is doing the rounds is what prompted the ‘Chanakya’ of Bengal politics to leave the BJP and join his old political party?

While anybody not familiar with Bengal politics might see Roy’s move as a ‘bolt from the blue’, but the senior politician’s tryst with the saffron brigade was on the wane ever since the 2019 general elections, despite Roy playing an important role in making the BJP a formidable opposition, winning 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats.

Though Roy was instrumental in negotiating with heavyweights like Arjun Singh, Saumitra Khan, Anupam Hazra and Nisith Pramanik before the last general elections, his continuous differences with state BJP President Dilip Ghosh had made him non-functional after the Lok Sabha polls.

“Ghosh, who has an RSS background, never wanted the rebel Trinamool leaders in the party because that was going against the party’s strategy of providing better governance in the state. But Roy wanted to break the Trinamool Congress to make the BJP stronger. The problem between the two leaders started from there,” a senior state BJP leader told IANS on condition of anonymity.

The rift reached a flashpoint before this year’s Assembly elections because, as per sources in the Trinamool, Roy never wanted to contest the polls but he was asked to fight from the Krishnanagar seat, from where he won.

The Trinamool plugged in here and started back-door negotiation with the father-son duo. Chief Minister Banerjee, even during her campaign, had commented that “Mukul Roy is not that bad”, indicating that Trinamool’s relation with Roy was softening.

The changing relation was even evident because during the heated campaign before the Assembly polls, Roy seemed to have taken a backseat, with Ghosh and newly inducted Suvendu Adhikari taking all the political space, the latter fighting a pitched battle with Chief Minister Banerjee in Nandigram.

Immediately after the elections, Banerjee also showed signs of softening her stand towards Roy, drawing a difference between him and Adhikari.

“It is not that Roy leaving the party did not hurt Banerjee. But he was never vicious against her like Suvendu was. There was always scope for realignment,” a senior Trinamool leader said.

Immediately after the election results were declared on May 2, there were further signs of a fallout between the BJP and Roy, after the latter did not attend at least two party meetings, leading to intense speculations.

Senior BJP leaders are of the opinion that what unsettled Roy was the appointment of Adhikari as the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, despite Roy playing a crucial role in making the BJP a force to reckon with in Bengal politics.

Both Roy and Adhikari had won their Assembly seats, but only one was treated with “respect”, Trinamool leaders said.

“In Trinamool, there may be differences, but we always knew the importance of Mukul Roy. In BJP, it is Suvendu Adhikari who is getting the meetings with Amit Shah and Prime Minister Modi,” said a Trinamool leader.

On May 8, Roy had tweeted his continued allegiance to the BJP, saying, “My fight would continue as a soldier of the BJP to restore democracy in our state. I would request everyone to put the concoctions and conjectures to rest. I am resolute in my political path.”

But when on June 3 Trinamool all-India General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee went to see Roy’s ailing wife at a private hospital and had a detailed discussion with his son Subhransgshu, the picture became very much clear. Since then, Roy leaving the BJP was only a matter of time.

But the ‘khela’ (game) is not over yet.

The BJP seemed to have scored a goal when more than 30 leaders from the Trinamool camp had switched sides and joined the BJP just before the Assembly elections.

However, the tide now appears to be turning again. Several Trinamool turncoats are now lining up for a ‘Ghar Wapsi’, and the BJP seems rattled by the move.

The Trinamool leadership claims that there are at least seven MLAs and three MPs who are keeping touch with the ruling party leaders.

“There are many people who want to come back but it will be decided on a case to case basis,” Trinamool state General Secretary Kunal Ghosh said.

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