After rebellion, TMC MP Satabdi Roy made party’s Bengal vice-president
Less than 48 hours after Satabdi Roy, three-time Lok Sabha member from Birbhum district, voiced dissent against the Trinamool Congress (TMC) leadership and triggered speculation that she would join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the TMC on Sunday made the actor-turned politician a vice-president of the West Bengal state committee.
While Roy welcomed the move, saying chief minister Mamata Banerjee wants her to work more for the people, the party’s secretary general, Partha Chatterjee, described the appointment as an “internal matter” of the organisation.
Two other leaders, Moazzem Hossain and Shankar Chakraborty were also made vice-presidents of the TMC state committee.
Speculations over Roy’s future started on Thursday over a post in a Facebook page of the Satabdi Roy Fan’s Club. The post, which Roy on Friday said was written by her, mentioned that she was unable to connect with voters in her constituency as she was not being invited to TMC programmes since the 2019 polls.
Roy told the media that she would fly to Delhi on Saturday. This led to rumours that she would meet Union home minister Amit Shah. “As an MP, I can always meet Shah. But I am not saying that I will join the BJP,” Roy said on Friday afternoon.
For the first time, TMC’s youth unit president and chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew, Abhishek Banerjee, stepped in to fight the crisis. He sent party spokesperson Kunal Ghosh to bring Roy to his office and held a two-hour long meeting on Friday evening.
“I discussed everything with our leader Abhishek Banerjee. I conveyed to him the grievances I had. He said he will solve all the problems,” Roy said after emerging from the meeting.
Saumitra Khan, BJP state youth front president and Lok Sabha MP from Bankura district, however said Roy would join the BJP very soon. “Mamata Banerjee may have stopped her now but not just Roy but seven or eight MPs, such as Prasun Banerjee, will subsequently join the BJP,” Khan said on Saturday.
Banerjee, a former football star, however dismissed Khan’s claim. “I am and will always be an integral part of the TMC,” he said.
Though the TMC managed to stop Roy from leaving, the party was in an uncomfortable position because of state forest minister Rajib Banerjee, who has been avoiding most of the government and party programmes since September last.
Banerjee said in a live social media post on Saturday that he was not being allowed to work freely in the party. Since September, the minister has been speaking against a section of TMC leaders in Howrah district.
Making things a little easier for the TMC in East Midnapore district, where Suvendu Adhikari was a legislator from the Nandigram seat, Siraj Khan, a senior functionary of the zilla parishad (district council) left the BJP and returned to the TMC on Sunday morning. Khan was welcomed into the BJP in November last year by the party’s national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya.