Mukul Roy, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s national vice president, and the first import from Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, who played a major role in strengthening the party in the state, has made a ghar wapsi.
“Mukul Roy has returned to his roots today. He could not work in the BJP. During the election, he did not make any anti-TMC statements. He has found peace by returning to his former party. He was made the national vice-president of the BJP, but he was not satisfied with the work. Mukul will continue to play the same role in our party which he used to play earlier,” said Banerjee after inducting Roy into the party.
After rejoining the TMC, Mukul Roy said, “It feels good to see my former colleagues here. Bengal will restore its glory under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee. I will issue a written statement on why I left the BJP. Under the present condition, no one can remain in the BJP.”
A few days ago Mukul’s son wrote on Facebook that “self-criticism was more necessary than criticising a government elected by people,” providing fire to the speculation.
Mukul’s strategic moves helped BJP bag 18 seats in 2019 Lok Sabha elections and record a jump in tally from 3 seats to 77 seats in 2021. Mukul, once a close aide of Mamata, had joined the BJP in 2017.
Mukul was reportedly peeved at being ignored for the Leader of Opposition (LoP) post which went to Suvendu Adhikari who had joined just three months before the polls.
Nor was Mukul accommodated as the state president of the Bengal unit. Suvendu Adhikari’s grand victory against Mamata, which gained him the tag of giant-killer, meant he couldn’t be ignored for the LoP post. The problem for BJP also is that it couldn’t offer both the posts to outsiders as it would have fuelled dissatisfaction among its leaders and cadre.
BJP took a call, looking at the future and chose Suvendu over Mukul. Suvendu is young (50), dynamic and can match TMC’s aggressive style of politics. Mukul is 67, and is not considered a mass leader but rather a strategist. While he won his seat in the recently concluded polls, his son lost the elections.
However, Mukul’s contribution in BJP’s tally is immense and can’t be ignored.
After handing the BJP a big blow in state elections, and registering a bigger victory than 2016, Mukul’s re-entry is a symbolic victory for the TMC.
It re-iterates TMC’s point that BJP doesn’t reflect the aspirations of Bangla people. Also, the fact that hoppers can’t rise in BJP beyond a point. It adopts a use and throw policy.
TMC alleged in 2017 that Mukul, whose name figures in the Saradha chit fund scam and Narada sting scam, had joined the BJP to gain protection from prosecution by authorities. The investigation is still open in these cases. Recently 4 TMC MLAs were arrested by the CBI and later granted bail.
It seems Mukul is confident he can take advantage of the loopholes in our judicial system. These cases are difficult to prove in court of law. Or, during his stint in the BJP, he has managed to get the cases against him diluted to some extent.
The bigger worry for BJP is that this may start a flurry of exits. A few MPs and MLAs loyal to Mukul may join the TMC. Mamata has registered the biggest victory ever with 213 MLAs.
The party is in a position to lure BJP MLAs with doles, positions in corporations etc. During 2016-2021 (previous assembly tenure), 18 of the 44 Congress MLAs joined the TMC (41%). Some reports claim 30 MLAs of BJP are in touch with BJP.
TMC wants to strike when the iron is hot and is in a mood to seek revenge. Before the elections TMC alleged BJP poached 34 of its MLAs. Now is the time to give back and TMC will do whatever it takes to finish the BJP in the state.
This war also has elements of a personal grudge/ego tussle. Mamata wants to teach ‘traitor’ Suvendu a lesson who defeated her from Nandigram.
Being an opposition MLA is not easy in a politically charged and hostile environment of Bengal. BJP workers and supporters have already faced the wrath of TMC and there have been reports of post-poll . This intimidation and confrontation is likely to continue.
It will not be easy for BJP to maintain the same momentum as it displayed before the polls for the next 5 years. Central leaders who had parachuted to Bengal have all left. Now the MLAs, leaders, workers and supporters have to fend for themselves.
The party will really need to toil hard to keep its flock together, but it’s not going to be easy. In this endeavour, the central leadership will need to provide all support to Suvendu.