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Why Mukul Roy’s Return to TMC is a Win for Dilip Ghosh & Abhishek

After weeks of speculation, Roy, a former TMC leader who joined the BJP, made his way back to his former party.

Updated
Politics
4 min read
Mukul Roy’s return to TMC may help Dilip Ghosh in BJP and Abhishek Banerjee in Trinamool.
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Putting an end to weeks of speculation Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national vice president and leader from West Bengal, Mukul Roy, jumped the political ship to go back to his former party, the Trinamool Congress (TMC).

In 2017, Roy, a former lieutenant of TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, moved to the BJP after an alleged fallout with her nephew, Abhishek Banerjee.

After joining the saffron brigade, while Roy was successful in using his organisational skills to increase the BJP's reach in the state, which contributed to the party’s impressive performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

However, Roy faced resistance from older, senior leaders in the party - one of them being the BJP's Bengal President, Dilip Ghosh, himself.

In a way Mukul Roy coming back to the Trinamool can we now be analysed as a political win for both Banerjee and Ghosh.

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Abhishek Banerjee Cements Position As No. 2 In TMC

When Roy had exited the TMC in 2017, The Quint had reported that he was unhappy with Abhishek Banerjee's growing importance in the party.

There was also the looming threat of harassment and arrest by central agencies like the CBI because his name had come up in the Narada case.

At Mukul’s second home-coming held at Kolkata’s Trinamool Bhawan, the most striking image was that of the hug between Abhishek and Mukul.

While Mukul was the first TMC bigwig to go to the BJP, his departure has been differentiated from the mass exodus of TMC leaders right before the election.

After Roy joined in 2017, the BJP in Bengal made considerable gains in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, but soon after, reports of his falling out with the saffron brigade came to the surface.

In July 2020, The Quint had reported that Roy was in touch with several top leaders of the TMC and was negotiating terms for a comeback. We'd also reported at the time that his joining was stalled mostly due to Abhishek's resistance. That apart, Roy had also managed to leverage these talks with the TMC to gain a position as the BJP's national vice president.

However, soon after, the BJP set its eyes on the party's next possible star acquisition from the BJP - Suvendu Adhikari.

Adhikari, also a tall TMC leader and minister earlier, joined the BJP in 2020 and soon became the blue-eyed boy of the party's high command.

Interestingly, Suvendu's main beef with the TMC was also the power being accorded to Abhishek Banerjee in party affairs.

After Suvendu, who defeated Mamata Banerjee from Nandigram in the just concluded West Bengal Assembly elections, was made Leader of Opposition in the assembly, it seemed like the last straw for Roy in the BJP.

While Roy always argued in the TMC that Abhishek was a junior party member and had less experience, sources say that Roy was upset to see Adhikari, also a junior, claim the spotlight in the BJP.

Meanwhile, Abhishek Banerjee, who was a crucial part of the negotiations between Roy, his son Subhrangshu and the TMC for over a year now, was also the TMC leader who first showed Roy the olive branch.

Banerjee paid a visit to the hospital to see Roy's ailing wife last month, after which the latter received a call from Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself. But many were quick to point out that the first political visit came from the TMC.

Roy joins the TMC just days after Abhishek was promoted as the party's national general secretary - a position Roy once held. Banerjee has also won praise for being one of Mamata's main players in the assembly elections, coordinating the campaign with political strategist Prashant Kishor's Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC).

If Roy left the TMC because he was worried about Abhishek's power in the party, he has returned at a time when the latter is more powerful in the party than he's ever been.

Dilip Ghosh & Bengal BJP's Opposition To "Outsiders"

According to sources in the Bengal BJP, the one person who has doggedly opposed any kind of immigration from the TMC has been Dilip Ghosh. Since Roy's entry into the BJP, there have been reports of two factions within the state leadership of the party - the Ghosh camp and the Roy camp.

However, as the elections came around these two camps ceded space to two other camps - the state camp vs the Delhi/national camp.

In the midst of it all, Roy began to be more and more sidelined.

However, Dilip Ghosh maintained his stance against giving those like Roy (and Suvendu Adhikari) more space in the party.

Sources close to Ghosh said that he often spoke about “garaging” those like Roy, because he believed that they would always be negotiating with the party for their own gains.

After Roy's move back to the TMC was confirmed, Ghosh dismissed it as opportunists making their next move.

However, fact remains that a section of TMC leaders who were lured into the BJP by Roy have also decided to follow him back to the TMC. Reports state that at least 20 MLAs from the BJP may be making their way to the TMC.

Meanwhile with the BJP's Delhi-managed election campaign failing terribly, the torch of power is once again in the hands of the state leadership like Ghosh.

While he's managed to politically convince Delhi why Mukul's induction was a bad idea, time will tell if he can continue to walk alongside Suvendu Adhikari, or whether problems are in the offing there too.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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