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Roy’s move fans talk of turncoats following suit

Kolkata: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) vice-president Mukul Roy’s return to the Trinamool Congress on Friday stoked speculation that several leaders who switched sides ahead of the assembly polls were on their way back to Bengal’s ruling party
PUBLISHED ON JUN 12, 2021 12:04 AM IST

Kolkata: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) vice-president Mukul Roy’s return to the Trinamool Congress on Friday stoked speculation that several leaders who switched sides ahead of the assembly polls were on their way back to Bengal’s ruling party.

Some turncoats such as former assembly deputy speaker Sonali Guha, former legislator Dipendu Biswas and leader Sarala Murmu have openly said that they want to return. Some others, like former forest minister Rajib Banerjee, have criticised BJP.

“Just like a fish cannot survive out of water, I cannot survive without Mamata Banerjee. I am severing all ties with the BJP and would join the TMC whenever Didi calls me,” Guha told reporters.

But on Friday, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee made it clear that the party was not going to accept all turncoats.

“Those who had betrayed the party ahead of the elections to strengthen the BJP had bitterly attacked the TMC party during campaigns will not be taken back. Mukul never attacked the TMC. There are, however, some leaders who may have gone with Mukul and may want to come back. The party will take a decision on this,” said Banerjee.

At least 34 TMC legislators and former lawmakers joined the BJP in the last two years. Around 19 of them were given assembly tickets but only five won.

Earlier this week, BJP leader Rajib Banerjee warned that “people will not take kindly to threats of President’s Rule” against an elected government, referring to statements by Adhikari that post-poll violence necessitated imposition of central rule. Rajib also skipped a meeting of the state BJP on post-poll violence. Prabir Ghosal, former MLA of Uttarpara in Hooghly who joined the BJP with Rajib Banerjee, also expressed his “unhappiness”.

Senior TMC leaders said several BJP leaders, including sitting legislators, are in touch with the party. “Let us see how many people are coming back,” said Roy.

BJP dismissed the speculation. “We don’t know who these people are [who are willing to leave BJP and return to TMC]We are the largest party in the world and there is a democracy in the party. We are not a family-centric party. We have some ideologies which run the party. If someone feels that he is feeling breathless and would be able to serve the people by moving to another party, then BJP respects it,” said Jay Prakash Majumdar, BJP’s vice president in West Bengal.

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