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Mukul Roy joins BJP, calls it a ‘secular’ force

Mukul Roy had quit the Trinamool Congress on September 25 and resigned as the party’s Rajya Sabha member on October 11

india Updated: Nov 03, 2017 21:42 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent, New Delhi
Mukul Roy,BJP,Trinamool Congress
Former TMC leader Mukul Roy with Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. (ANI)

Former Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Mukul Roy joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday, giving the ruling party at the Centre a boost in West Bengal where it aims to expand base ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

A trusted aide-turned-critic of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, Roy resigned from the TMC on September 25 – two weeks after the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate questioned him in the Narada sting case.

He resigned as a Rajya Sabha member on October 11.

. Read more: Mukul Roy’s son to stay in Trinamool; says Mamata Banerjee is supreme leader

The former railway minister was earlier also questioned by the CBI in connection with the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam.

Flanked by law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, BJP general secretary and party’s West Bengal in-charge Kailash Vijayvargiya and Rajya Sabha member Swapan Dasgupta, Roy said Trinamool could not have been established without the help of the BJP, its partner in 1998 and 1999.

Trinamool fought Lok Sabha elections in 1998 for the first time as a partner of the BJP and again in 1999, it was a member of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. Subsequently, Mamata Banerjee also became a minister in then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s cabinet.

“The BJP is not a communal force, it is a secular force. It rules the country, and I believe that…it will grab power in West Bengal in near future for the welfare of the people of the state,” Roy said at the party’s national headquarters .

Riding high on its performance in recent elections and a jump in its membership in Bengal, the BJP aims at increasing its Lok Sabha tally in the eastern state.

The BJP could win just 2 out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state in the 2014 election, though it polled 8.6 million votes.

It took a hit in the 2016 assembly election wherein it could mop just 5.5 million votes and just 3 out of 294 assembly seats.

Since then the BJP has turned its focus on West Bengal – along with the northeast and states such as Kerala and Odisha – for the next elections.

BJP leaders expect Roy’s entry will give party’s prospect a fillip in West Bengal, where it is trying to build a robust organisation to match that of Trinamool and the Left front.

“We are sure that his entry will benefit the BJP. His experience will benefit us immensely,” Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

Roy, a founding member of Trinamool Congress, was in-charge of the TMC organisation. He fell out with Mamta following differences over the growing influence of her nephew Abhishek Banerjee within the party.

Besides Bengal, the BJP is also likely to utilise Roy’s service for election related activities in Tripura, which goes to poll in February next year.

Six Trinamool MLAs defected to the BJP in the run up to the July Presidential election in the northeastern state.

“He may also be involved in Odisha, another eastern state bordering Bengal,” a BJP source said.

CPI(M), Congress allege match-fixing, TMC yet to react

The TMC is yet to react on the development.

“We’ll react only after consulting Mamata Banerjee, who is in Mumbai now,” said a TMC leader on condition of anonymity.

The CPI(M), however, viewed the development as a tacit understanding between the TMC and the BJP.

“Mukul Roy has joined the BJP as an agent of Mamata Banerjee. This proved how BJP and Trinamool Congress share a brotherhood,” remarked CPI(M) politburo member and Lok Sabha MP Md Salim.

The Congress said Roy had a compulsion to join the BJP as he had been an accused in both the Saradha and Narada scams.

“Roy’s joining BJP will reduce the severity of the CBI cases that Trinamool leaders are facing. Mukul Roy himself is an accused in both Saradha and Narada scams. So he has his own compulsion to save himself. He will act as a bridge between the BJP and the Trinamool,” said Omprakash Mishra, AICC member and a general secretary of the Congress in Bengal.

Roy’s son and TMC MLA Subhrangshu Roy said he would stay with the TMC.

“ I have been inspired by Mamata Banerjee to join the party, and will stay here. I am not in agreement with my father,” he said to a TV channel, distancing himself from his father.

(With inputs from HTC Kolkata and agencies)

First Published: Nov 03, 2017 18:01 IST