The repercussions of the BJP’s comprehensive defeat in the West Bengal Assembly poll continued more than a month after the results were declared, with party vice-president Mukul Roy on Friday returning to the Trinamool Congress. One of the founding members of the party, Mr. Roy had switched to the BJP in November 2017 .
Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee and party general secretary Abhishek Banerjee were at the party headquarters to welcome Mr. Roy, 67.
An effusive Mr. Roy described Ms. Banerjee “as a leader of the entire country”. He said he was feeling relieved after quitting the BJP.
“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 that position, she is the leader of all of us, the leader of India, none other than Mamata Banerjee,” he said. In the present circumstances, no one can stay in the BJP in Bengal, he added.
Ms. Banerjee, in turn, described Mr. Roy as an “old family member” and added that “old is always gold”.
“Mukul is an old member of our family. I feel that upon coming back he has got some mental relief. I saw his health was deteriorating and he was perhaps unable to express that. It is not possible to work in the BJP. The BJP is such an authoritarian party; it is so cruel that they do not allow anybody to exist with dignity. Mukul’s return proves just that,” Ms. Banerjee said.
Pointing that she “never had any difference of opinion with Mukul” and “Mukul did not say anything against our party”, the Chief Minister alleged that the former Railway Minister “was intimidated, threatened... agencies were brandished to harass him”.
Ms. Banerjee added that many more leaders from the BJP may join Trinamool.
However, she clarified that “those who have criticised the party and have betrayed it before the elections, will not be considered”.
With Mr. Roy, the BJP MLA from Krishnanagar Uttar , rejoining the TMC, the cycle of defections that has dominated the State politics for the past few years has come full circle.
Mr. Mukul Roy was one of the first to defect from the TMC to the BJP almost three years and seven months ago. He is also the first BJP leader to return to the TMC. Several BJP leaders have started warming up to the TMC after the saffron party’s poll defeat.
During the day, BJP leaders like Anupam Hazra also questioned about the functioning of the party in the recent elections.
The speculation of Mr. Mukul Roy’s return to the TMC gained momentum last week after Mr. Banerjee visited a city hospital to inquire about the health of his wife. Prime Minister Narendra Modi too called up Mr. Roy.
Miffed during polls
The veteran politician was reportedly upset for not being given much importance during the 2021 Assembly polls, where Nandigram MLA Suvendu Adhikari emerged as the important face of the BJP.
Mr. Roy played a crucial role in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls when the BJP won 18 out of the 42 seats.