Abhishek Banerjee’s 10-min courtesy call sparks buzz over Mukul Roy's next move
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and Trinamool Congress (TMC) youth unit president Abhishek Banerjee on Wednesday evening visited a private hospital to check on the ailing wife of former party colleague Mukul Roy, adding to speculation about the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) vice-president’s next move.
Abhishek Banerjee, 33, spent about 10 minutes at the east Kolkata hospital where Mukul Roy’s wife Krishna Roy is being treated for Covid-19. The young Lok Sabha MP did not speak to the media. TMC leaders said it was a courtesy call.
“Abhishek Banerjee briefly met Roy’s son Subhranshu and inquired about his mother’s health,” said a TMC leader who did not want to be named. But the visit nevertheless sparked buzz about the 67-year-old Roy’s next move. As the rumours swirled, Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh too dropped by two hours later.
Mukul Roy, a founder TMC member, was suspended for six years from the Trinamool Congress after his meeting with BJP leaders in September 2017. Roy quit from the party and the Rajya Sabha the following month and joined the BJP in November 2017. Mukul Roy was the BJP’s lead election strategist for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in Bengal when the BJP won 18 of the state’s 42 seats. In September last year, Roy, who is an accused in the Narada sting operation case probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation, was appointed national vice-president of the BJP.
Abhishek Banerjee’s surprise visit comes days after Mukul Roy’s son Subhranshu wrote on Facebook on Saturday that self-criticism is more necessary than criticising a government elected by people, a remark that was widely seen to refer to the BJP sharp campaign against Mamata Banerjee after she won the state elections.
Subhranshu Roy, who joined the BJP last year, had also contested the election from Bijpur in North 24 Parganas district but lost. Mukul Roy won the Krishnanagar North seat in Nadia district.
To be sure, Mamata Banerjee did make repeated references to Mukul Roy and Suvendu Adhikari - two of her trusted lieutenants who quit the TMC to join the BJP - during campaigning for the eight-phase polls and was seen to be soft on Mukul Roy.
“Poor Mukul has been fielded from Nadia district although he hails from North 24 Parganas. He is not as bad as Suvendu,” Banerjee said at one campaign rally.
Mukul Roy did try to end the speculation, telling reporters that he was a “dedicated worker” of the BJP.