West Bengal

Mukul Roy quits BJP, returns to the Trinamool Congress

Published : June 11, 2021 22:18 IST

Mukul Roy welcomed back to the Trinamool Congress by Abhishek Banerjee, the party’s national general secretary, in the presence of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, at a press conference in Kolkata on June 11. Photo: Swapan Mahapatra/PTI

Mukul Roy, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) vice president and MLA from Krishnanagar Uttar, returned to the Trinamool Congress on June 11.

In a major turn of events, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) vice president and MLA from Krishnanagar Uttar, Mukul Roy, returned to the Trinamool Congress on June 11, barely a month after the saffron party’s humiliating defeat in the Assembly election in the State. Once considered the most trusted aide of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Roy joined the BJP in November 2017, paving the way for a steady exodus from the ruling party which continued till the beginning of the Assembly election. His return may well herald an exodus back to the Trinamool from the BJP. Addressing a press conference with Roy by her side, Mamata Banerjee said, “Old is always gold.” Roy’s son Shubhrangshu Roy also returned to the Trinamool with his father.

This was the first big defection from the BJP, which, until its recent setback in the election, had been orchestrating defections from other parties into its fold. Mamata Banerjee said: “Mukul is an old member of our family. I feel that upon coming back Mukul has got some mental relief. I saw his health was deteriorating…. It is not possible to work in the BJP. The BJP is such an authoritarian party; it is so cruel that it does not allow anybody to exist with dignity. Mukul’s return proves just that.”

Mukul Roy, patching up with his old party and his former leader, hailed Mamata as the “Ieader of India”. “I feel glad to meet all the old faces again…. I feel that Bengal will return to its old position of prestige, and the person who will lead Bengal to there, our leader, the leader of India — none other than Mamata Banerjee.” He said he would explain in detail in writing the reasons for leaving the BJP. Though Roy had played a key role in the 2019 Lok Sabha election in which the BJP won 18 out of 42 seats, he was reportedly unhappy at being sidelined in the 2021 Assembly election.

According to Mamata Banerjee, Roy “will play the same role” in the party that he played before. At the time Mukul Roy had left the party, he was considered the second most powerful leader in Trinamool after Mamata Banerjee herself, even though her nephew Abhishek Banerjee was fast rising up the party rungs. Four years after leaving the party and joining the main opposition, Roy will definitely not find his position within the party to be as influential as it was before. Mamata Banerjee also made it clear when she said, “Our party is already very strong. We returned with a landslide victory.” She emphasised that the Trinamool was not trying to break the BJP, and said it was Mukul’s wish to join the Trinamool. Talking about his now erstwhile party, Roy said, “The situation is such in Bengal that no one will continue in the BJP.”

When Roy defected to the BJP in 2017, the Trinamool was facing one of its toughest periods. The ruling party was reeling from the multi-crore Sarada scam in which several top Trinamool leaders were put behind bars, and even though it had returned to power with a huge majority just the year before, its reputation and credibility were at their lowest. At such a time, Roy’s alleged cooperation with the Central investigating agencies and his growing closeness to the BJP came as a huge blow to the Trinamool. Roy, one of the tallest leaders in the party, was also an astute organisation man, and when he left, the party too began to splinter. The Trinamool leadership accused him of trying to protect himself from the investigating agencies by joining the party that was in power at the Centre and was allegedly controlling the agencies. The fact that time and again Roy seemed to evade investigation even though others who were equally culpable were being grilled or arrested, added credence to the allegations. After Roy rejoined the Trinamool on June 11, Mamata Banerjee insinuated that he may have been forced to join the BJP by being threatened by investigative agencies. “Mukul was intimidated, threatened, agencies were brandished to harass him,” she said.

Though Mukul Roy is the first to be accepted back into the Trinamool fold, he is by no means the only ex-Trinamool member wanting to return. While the fate of the others is yet to be decided, Mamata Banerjee explained why Roy was accepted back: “I have never had any difference of opinion with Mukul…. Mukul did not say anything against our party during the elections. Those who betrayed our party during the elections and joined the BJP to make it strong, will not be back. But those who left with Mukul and wish to return with his return, we will consider.” Mamata Banerjee also said there were many others wanting to leave the BJP and join the Trinamool.

The State BJP leadership put up a brave face over the recent development. Joyprakash Majumdar, State BJP vice-president and head of the party’s political analysis wing, said at a press conference, “We wish Mukul Roy well on his new innings in his old party. Whether his decision will ultimately have any political impact, the future will tell.”