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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

Mukul Roy’s induction leaves Bengal BJP disturbed, Left happy and Congress indifferent

Several office bearers of the BJP’s Bengal unit said most of the leaders were opposed to Roy’s induction.

india Updated: Nov 05, 2017 11:27 IST
Tanmay Chatterjee
Tanmay Chatterjee
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Former Trinamool Congress leader Mukul Roy joined BJP on Friday.
Former Trinamool Congress leader Mukul Roy joined BJP on Friday.(PTI)

No other political figure has caught so much attention in Bengal and drawn diverse reactions as Mukul Roy, the once-No.2 of Trinamool Congress who joined BJP in New Delhi on Friday.

As television channels aired footage of Roy meeting BJP president Amit Shah and other leaders, CPI(M) apparatchiks in Bengal felt enthused, Congress was indifferent, and the Trinamool Congress silent — at least for 18 hours, until some state ministers, prodded by the media, made it clear that it would not affect Mamata Banerjee or Bengal politics.

The most interesting responses came from the Bengal BJP. Although its president Dilip Ghosh said at a press conference that Roy would play a big role in expanding the party, he made no attempt to hide the chemistry unfolding at the BJP state office.

“Trinamool is a local party while BJP is a national entity. We have thousands of leaders. May be Mukul Roy was a prominent leader in Trinamool, but in BJP, there are many leaders of similar stature,” he said.

What about scams?

For a party that has risen sharply in Bengal since 2011 and won three seats in the Assembly in 2016 for the first time (Ghosh himself was elected from Kharagpur), issues such as the Narada and Saradha scams had become crucial weapons against the seemingly unshakable Trinamool.

“There was not a single public meeting in Bengal before or after the assembly polls where BJP’s central leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Siddharth Nath Singh and Kailash Vijayvargiya didn’t mention these scams. And, many of them even mentioned Roy who figures among the accused in CBI files,” recalled a senior state BJP leader and mentioned one of Singh’s famous one-liners: “bhag Mukul bhag (run Mukul run).”

“This critical issue appears virtually useless all of a sudden,” said a BJP district president. “Also, we now have a leader whose son is the Trinamool MLA from Bijpur and a councillor at Kanchrapara municipality. Hope you can imagine how our workers and supporters will react to his presence at public meetings,” he added.

He was referring to Mukul Roy’s son Subhranshu, who had reacted to his father’s move by reiterating his allegiance to Mamata Banerjee.

Several office bearers of the BJP’s Bengal unit said most of the leaders were opposed to Roy’s induction.

“Ideally I should delete my social media posts on Saradha and Narada scams in which Roy is an accused. It would be extremely embarrassing if someone shares those posts right now,” a BJP general secretary told HT.

On Saturday, Dilip Ghosh went a step ahead. “If Trinamool leaders and supporters want to join BJP, they are free to do so. They will come to me. Why should they need Mukul Roy’s help?” he said during his visit to West Midnapore district.

Roy, too, had to grapple with questions from the media in Delhi. Asked about the scams, he said, “Mention of name in an FIR does not make a person guilty. Let law take its own course.”

Whose idea was it?

Vijayvargiya, the BJP national general secretary in charge of Bengal who played a key role in Roy’s induction, faced the same questions. “CBI will do its work. If he is guilty, he will not be spared. Our Bengal unit decided to take him. So, how could we object?” he said in Delhi.

In Kolkata, however, BJP leaders said the entire decision was taken by the central leadership which felt that Roy could engineer mass exodus from Trinamool.

“The panchayat polls will reveal the actual picture,” said a senior officer-bearer.

The Bengal unit of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological parent of the BJP, had earlier expressed reservation about Roy, local BJP leaders said.

The organisation did not comment on Roy after Friday’s development.

“We have full faith in the BJP’s central and state leadership. We won’t interfere. This is totally a political issue,” Jishnu Basu, general secretary of the RSS in south Bengal, told HT.

CPI(M)’s happy, Congress indifferent

Interestingly, CPI(M) leaders virtually welcomed the development saying that by switching sides, Roy has only proved them right.

“We have been saying for long that BJP and Trinamool are partners in disguise. Now the truth is out in the open,” said CPI(M) politburo member and Lok Sabha MP Md Salim, adding in jibe that it can be compared to the mobile number portability feature offered by telecom networks.

“The service provider has changed. but the number remains the same,” he quipped.

Congress, however, chose to remain aloof. State Congress president and MP, Pradip Bhattacharya wondered why the media was paying so much attention to Mukul Roy.

First Published: Nov 05, 2017 11:26 IST

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