Among the founding members of the TMC and one of the first few to join the BJP in 2017, Roy is considered a close aide of Mamata Banerjee.
Ending weeks of speculation, BJP national Vice President and former Union Minister Mukul Roy joined back the Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Friday along with his son Subhranshu in presence of West Bengal Chief Minister and party supremo Mamata Banerjee and her nephew Abhishek Banerjee.
BJP national vice president Mukul Roy and his son Subhranshu Roy join TMC in the presence of West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, in Kolkata. pic.twitter.com/WS9oFE2J79
— ANI (@ANI) June 11, 2021
Among the founding members of the TMC and one of the first few to join the BJP in 2017, Roy is considered a close aide of Mamata Banerjee. Along with his own return, several MLAs are expected to return to the party fold after jumping ship to the BJP in the run-up to the West Bengal elections in 2021.
Narada, Saradha Scam And Fall Out With Mamata
Mukul Roy was among the many leaders from the TMC whose name cropped up in the Narada sting operation. The operation was conducted by Narada news founder Mathew Samuel for over two years in West Bengal and it was published on the news website months before the 2016 West Bengal Assembly elections.
In the video that surfaced, TMC leaders including current BJP Leader Of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari, Sougata Roy, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, etc were seen accepting alleged bribes in the form of wads of cash in exchange for extending unofficial favors to the fictional company floated by Samuel.
Although Mukul Roy wasn’t seen accepting cash directly on camera, he was seen asking Samuel to visit his party office with the promised cash.
Roy, the then general secretary of the party was also grilled by the CBI for his involvement in the Saradha chit fund scam and it was alleged that he used to manage the party funds and transactions around the time the scam came to light.
The ‘Chanakya’ Of Bengal BJP
After his suspension from the TMC for 6 years in 2017 and his issues with both CM Mamata and her nephew Abhishek, he joined the BJP and was later elevated to the post of the national vice president of the party. Roy, through his strong organizational skills and his inside-out knowledge of the state, played a pivotal role in helping BJP make serious in-roads in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in which it won 18 out of the 40 seats.
Thanks to this performance, BJP West Bengal in-charge and general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya tried to persuade the top leadership to reward him with positions. According to the Indian Express, while Roy had expressed his desire to be part of the Union Government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not entertain the idea, mainly due to the charges of corruption against him.
It was only in September 2020 that BJP President JP Nadda in his new team inducted Roy and made him national vice-president, much to the dismay of certain BJP leaders.
Sidelined In The BJP, Back To TMC
Mukul Roy, much to his reluctance, fought and won the Krishnanagar Uttar seat for the BJP. Evident in his time in the saffron party, Roy, apart from the political comments, part of the usual optics, rarely took a personal jibe at the Chief Minister and Mamata reciprocated it by softening her stand against him. Soon, dominated by Dilip Ghosh and Mamata’s bete noire Suvendu Adhikari (who switched to the BJP) during the campaign, including the hotly contested Nandigram seat between Adhikari and Mamata, Roy had taken a backseat.
A senior TMC leader told the Indian Express, “It is not that Roy leaving did not hurt Mamata di. But he was never vicious against her like Suvendu was. There was always scope for a realignment.”
Sources told NDTV THAT Mukul Roy had told close associates about feeling “suffocated” in the party. His frustration was amplified by the BJP’s defeat in the Bengal election. The former Trinamool MP concluded that the BJP’s political culture and ethos are alien to Bengal and it is doomed to remain an “outsider” in the foreseeable future.
The discontent between him and the BJP grew and was visible in the aftermath of the results, where Mamata won a decisive victory, especially in the meetings conducted by the BJP since then. Conspicuously, Roy remained absent from both of them, raising eyebrows in the political circle.
The final nail in the coffin was Suvendu’s elevation as the party’s leader of opposition in the assembly. Roy wasn’t happy with this, given all the groundwork he had put in organizationally for the party over the last 4 years and strongly felt isolated from the party as Adhikari became the new face for the BJP.
Speculations were rife about his return to the Trinamool Congress after Abhishek Banerjee visited Roy’s wife in hospital where she was being treated for COVID-19.
What Does It Mean For Both The Parties?
This could be a worrying sign for the BJP. Roy’s exit has paved the way for a number of his supporters in the BJP to now return to the TMC fold and a reverse migration could dent the presence of the saffron built in the state over the last few years. He was also instrumental in wooing key leaders like Suvendu Adhikari to join the BJP.
As for the TMC, the return of Roy and some of his supporters will be a big boost for the party. Although CM Mamata made it amply clear today that no gaddars (turncoats) will be welcome in the party, with Mukul Roy being an exception. The 68-year-old former Union Minister will play a key and influential role in the party.