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Central BJP exploring ways to induct Mukul Roy even as state leadership protests

Anurag Dey | Updated on: 29 September 2017, 19:42 IST
(Arya Sharma/Catch News)

Differences between the BJP central leadership and its West Bengal unit appear to be growing over the possibility of accommodating suspended All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) veteran Mukul Roy into the party.

While central leaders are keen to exploit Roy’s organisational skill to dent the Trinamool bastion, Bengal BJP is vehemently opposed to the idea and have asserted that his entry would jeopardise the fortunes of the party in the state.

Hoping to resolve the issue and convince the state leadership, a central BJP team is likely to head for West Bengal soon. According to sources, the team will be led by party general secretary and Bengal in-charge Kailash Vijayvargiya.

While BJP has been gaining ground in Bengal, owing to organisational deficiency and lack of quality leadership, it’s still miles behind from taking on the might of Trinamool in its own den. The central leadership feels Roy, with his immense organisational experience, could help the party on both counts.

They also feel that Roy once the right hand of Mamata Banerjee and aware of the chief minister and her party’s weaknesses, could eventually turn out to be the Vibhishana.

“Vibhishan’s contribution is well known, without him slaying Ravana would have been difficult,” is what a BJP functionary said regarding Roy’s utility for the party.

An unhappy lot

On the other hand the state BJP unit is stridently opposed to Roy joining the party.

Besides being apprehensive that his induction would result in them losing say in the party, a large section of the state leadership point to Roy’s alleged involvement in the Saradha Group chit fund scam and the Narada sting controversy.

“The Prime Minister says his battle against corruption is uncompromising, so is ours. After having campaigned against Roy for so many years, how can the party expect us to work alongside him? Won’t that be a compromise,” asked a Bengal BJP leader.

“At a time when the party is gaining ground and people of Bengal steadily getting disillusioned by Mamata and her Trinamool, taking Roy in the party fold will be a big misadventure,” he said.

The state BJP had earlier too foiled Roy’s entry into the BJP after the former railway minister’s fallout with the party in early 2015.

Believing that Roy spilled the beans on the party’s involvement in the multi-crore rupee Saradha scam during his CBI interrogation in January 2015, Trinamool stripped him of all party posts and was rendered a pariah.

Even though he was brought back into the party mainstream ahead of the 2016 Bengal assembly polls, his ties with Mamata did not improve.

Amid persistent allegations that he comprised Trinamool in return for the CBI not arresting him, Roy on 25 September announced quitting the party. The Trinamool instantly hit back by suspending him for six years for indulging in “anti-party activities”.

While speculations of Roy quitting AITC were rife for some time, he eventually made the announcement after a “positive” meeting with some key BJP leaders in the national capital.

With Congress and the CPI(M) led Left Front engaged in an existential battle in Bengal, BJP believes Roy can be useful in strengthening the party in the state playing a major role in mission 2019.

“There is no denying the massive organisational skills of Roy. If Mamata is the face of TMC, he was the pillar on which the entire party stood. The party only stands to gain by his entry,” said a BJP leader.

Political games

The BJP is also wants to utilise Roy in engineering a defection in Trinamool.

Several of Trinamool veterans are peeved at Mamata for promoting her nephew Abhishek Banerjee as the heir apparent. A first time Lok Sabha member, Abhishek has been getting a lot more say in party’s decision making, which has left many of the senior leaders disillusioned.

As the all power AITC general secretary, Roy had engineered many a prominent leaders from the CPI(M) and Congress to switch allegiance to the Trinamool. And now the BJP leaders are too hoping that his services can utilised to break the Trinamool.

On the flip side, there is also a possibility of the move backfiring.

The BJP Bengal unit is plagued by factionalism and Roy’s forced entry into the party could only compound the misery.

Aware of the possibility, the party will discuss the issue with the state leadership at length and arrive at a consensus.

With Roy said to be mulling the idea of floating his own political party, the BJP may help in that endeavour and get the party to be an ally instead.

First published: 29 September 2017, 19:42 IST