A little over a month after the TMC stormed back to power for a third straight term in West Bengal, BJP national vice president Mukul Roy, who left Mamta Banerjee and her party in 2017 to engineer a series of defections in the run-up to the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, returned to the TMC fold, saying “the situation in Bengal BJP” is such that “no one can stay there”.
Welcoming Roy and his son Subhranshu, former MLA from Bijpur, back into the party, Banerjee, addressing a press conference at Trinamool Bhawan in Kolkata, said: “Mukul amader purono paribar er chhele. Ghorer chhele aaj ghore firlo. Oke chomke dhomke agency dekhiye ottyachar koreche (Mukul has been part of our family. The prodigal son has returned. Agencies were used to threaten and harass him). He will play an important role, the role he played earlier. He was not satisfied working with them (BJP). Therefore, he returned to his old party. Old is always gold.”
Senior leaders of the TMC, including the new general secretary and Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek, were with the Chief Minister at the Trinamool Bhawan to announce Roy’s return — he is the most important leader to leave the BJP after the drubbing in the Assembly elections.
“During the polls, Mukul never said anything against our party. Those who betrayed us and criticised our party like anything, we will not accept them. We will consider people who are sober. We will not consider people who spread bitterness. There are hardcore and softcore,” Banerjee said, responding to a query on defectors who now wish to return.
Roy, on his part, said: “BJP korte parbo na. BJP korte parlam na (I could not remain with the BJP). That is why I am back in TMC. In the present situation in Bengal BJP, no one can stay there. I will tell you all in detail later.”
Abhishek Banerjee presented traditional scarves to Roy and his son while inducting them into the party. In September 2017, Roy was expelled from the TMC for anti-party activities. He had joined the BJP in November that year. Before he switched sides, he was the most important leader in the TMC after Mamata.
Roy’s son Subhranshu joined the BJP in May 2019. In 2020, Mukul Roy was made BJP national vice-president. In the Assembly elections this year, Subhranshu lost from Bijpur while his father won from Krishnanagar.
Meanwhile, West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh said Roy’s exit will not impact the party’s prospects in the state.
“Today it is the need of the hour to stand by our workers who are facing post-poll violence and are being driven away from their homes. It does not matter who is coming or leaving. I don’t know whether we benefitted from Roy joining our party. I don’t think his exit will make any impact either,” he said.
Roy played a key role in the BJP’s impressive showing in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls when it took 18 of 42 seats in Bengal. But there was no hiding his differences with Ghosh.
Sources said Roy, a former minister at the Centre, was not happy when he was told to contest from Krishnanagar. He wanted a larger role as the BJP’s poll strategist.
After the TMC landslide, Roy’s mentor in the BJP, Kailash Vijayvargiya, was not visible in the state, and this added to his marginalisation.
The BJP decision to make Suvendu Adhikari, MLA from Nandigram who defeated Mamata Banerjee, the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly also did not go down well with Roy.
Sources said that while the distance between Roy and the BJP leadership increased in recent weeks, the TMC leadership including Abhishek showed willingness to “rehabilitate” him.
Recently, Abhishek visited a private hospital in Kolkata where Roy’s wife Krishna was admitted. Abhishek met Subhranshu, maintaining that his visit was “above politics” and Roy’s wife was “like a mother”.