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Mukul Roy’s saffron robes are a mark of BJP’s desperation

Mukul Roy is not a mass leader, and derived his power from Mamata’s magic. Without that, it is doubtful whether he can display the organisational skills that the BJP expects of him.

opinion Updated: Nov 05, 2017 09:47 IST
Avijit Ghosal
Avijit Ghosal
Hindustan Times
Mukul Roy,BJP Mukul Roy,BJP Bengal
Senior Trinamool leader and Rajya Sabha MP Mukul Roy after announcing his resignation from the party in Kolkata(PTI)

From the BJP’s perspective, there is perhaps only one way of viewing the induction of Mukul Roy, who was advised by the party’s leader in charge of Bengal Siddharth Nath Singh to run away from Bengal in the winter of 2014. Despite the ebullience in BJP circles following a rise in vote shares in the 2014 Lok Sabha and 2016 Assembly elections in Bengal, the party organisation was not progressing in the state at all, for which Amit Shah pulled up the state leaders during his visit to Kolkata in September .

The BJP was badly in need of someone who, they could hope would translate the saffron support in the air to votes, and the party has staked a lot by allowing Trinamool’s former second-in-command to join. Since 2013, when the Saradha scam became public, all top BJP leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah lambasted Mamata Banerjee and her lieutenants on the issue of corruption making the twin scams the principal point against Bengal’s ruling party. In one stroke, the saffron camp seems to have surrendered the advantage that was its main plank against the Trinamool.

Mukul Roy carries three expectations. One, he would engineer defections from the Trinamool Congress to BJP. Two, he will draw electoral tricks from his hat that would translate into votes to push the BJP first past the post. Three, he can add ammunition to the existing and any yet unseen court battles against Mamata Banerjee’s party and confidants.

It’s a difficult challenge to say the least. Mamata Banerjee is at the peak of her popularity and it is not clear why her lieutenants will desert her now, especially when the BJP is facing a torrent of questions in different parts of the country. The Trinamool MLAs were elected only a year ago, and they have four more years to go.

Roy is not a mass leader, and derived his power from Mamata’s magic. Without that, it is doubtful whether he can display the organisational skills that the BJP expects of him. In the past year and a half, the Trinamool recorded impressive victories in the civic polls and assembly bypolls, though Mukul Roy was not in charge of the party machinery. But with the rural polls just about six months away and the 2019 Lok Sabha a year from then, Roy faces a baptism by fire.

There is another subtext to the Trinamool’s fortunes. The party’s political fortunes soared only after 2006, when Mamata Banerjee severed links with the BJP and decided to fight on her own. Singur happened in 2006 and Nandigram the year after, and the Trinamool chief found a different energy of her own.

Between the lines, Mukul Roy’s statement at the BJP headquarters revealed how he attempted to position himself as a man straddling two forces in Bengal – the green and the saffron. He emphasised he was a founding member of Trinamool Congress and underscored the point that without the BJP’s help, Mamata Banerjee could not have reached the position she is at today. The signal was clear – as a man who assimilated the strengths of both forces, he was in a position to deliver.

Roy also made a rather valiant forecast that the BJP would wrest power in Bengal in 2021. But he would have noticed that his son, Subhrangshu, who is also a TMC MLA, was not on his side. He still swears by Mamata Banerjee.

First Published: Nov 04, 2017 16:20 IST