Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national vice-president Mukul Roy on Friday afternoon returned to the Trinamool Congress (TMC), the party he left in 2017 after a 19-year long association, with chief minister Mamata Banerjee describing it as “homecoming of the family’s boy”.
“Our party is already powerful. We won a landslide victory. Mukul is an old boy of our family. Nobody can stay in the BJP. They do not allow anyone to live with dignity and peace. Mukul was threatened by probe agencies. His health was getting affected. He will have mental peace here,” Banerjee said at a brief press meet.
Roy’s son, Subhranshu, a former legislator, also returned to the ruling party.
Roy is an accused in the 2016 Narada sting operation case that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is probing. On May 17, the CBI arrested two TMC ministers, Subrata Mukherjee and Firhad Hakim, MLA Madan Mitra and former party leader Sovan Chatterjee.
Declaring that more leaders from the BJP will join the ruling party in the coming days, Banerjee said, “But traitors who joined the BJP before the elections for money will not be taken back.”
Banerjee got agitated when reporters pointed out that Roy had made remarks against her after leaving the party.
“I never had any differences with Mukul. Please do not ask questions aimed at individuals. Mukul did not say a word against us during the elections. The traitors who left us during the polls and helped the BJP will not be taken back. Do not ask about ideology. I cannot satisfy the BJP media. We do not break political parties like the BJP. We are taking him not because we are scared about numbers. He is here out of his own will. BJP is a party of landlords. It controls the agencies,” said Banerjee.
“I never had differences with Mamata Banerjee, I don’t and I never will in the future,” quipped Roy.
Saying that he would issue a written statement on why he left the BJP, Roy said, “I am happy that I have been able to come out. I can see the old faces here. I am happy that Bengal will regain its old glory under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee who is a national leader.”
“We will decide later what post Mukul will hold. He was a vice-president of the BJP. Since he has left, it is clear that he was not satisfied working with them. More people will come. But those who betrayed our party for money will not be considered. We will take only those who do not spread bitterness,” Banerjee added.
She abruptly ended the press conference when Roy was asked a question on Suvendu Adhikari who joined the BJP in December last year and defeated Banerjee in the recent polls.
BJP leaders said Roy’s absence will not affect the saffron camp in any way.
“We congratulate Roy on his new political journey. The BJP is the world’s largest political party. It is not run by a dynasty. One individual does not make any difference. This was his personal decision. Since he won the Krishnanagar North assembly seat in Nadia district on a BJP ticket we hope he will resign as legislator and start with a clear conscience,” said BJP state vice-president Jay Prakash Majumdar.
“However, it would be an insult to Roy if someone says he was in the BJP because he was scared by probe agencies. He is not a child,” added Majumdar.
There were strong rumours since morning that Roy might join the TMC during the day. “I cannot speculate on rumours,” Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said at a press conference in Delhi.
Roy left his Salt Lake residence at 2 pm and headed for the TMC headquarters at the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass. He was escorted by the Kolkata Police. The chief minister also left her residence at Kalighat in south Kolkata at 2 pm.
Several former TMC leaders who joined the BJP have publicly appealed to Mamata Banerjee to forgive them. They include the chief minister’s former aide Sonali Guha. Others, such as former forest minister Rajib Banerjee, have written critical posts against the BJP.
On June 3, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called up Roy to inquire about the latter’s ailing wife, Krishna Roy, who is undergoing treatment for Covid-19 at a private hospital in east Kolkata.
Though Roy did not comment on the conversation that, according to BJP leaders, lasted around two-three minutes, the phone call made news as Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee had visited the hospital the night before. His visit triggered speculations about Roy’s next political move.
Around two hours after Banerjee’s visit, Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh also went to the hospital. The next day, Mukul Roy denied having any knowledge about Ghosh’s visit. “I don’t know who he came to visit,” said Roy. The incident indicated that Roy was distancing himself from the BJP.
On May 29, Subhranshu Roy wrote on his social media page that self-criticism is more necessary than criticizing a government elected by people. Though he did not name any party or state, social media users took it as an obvious reference to Bengal.
Mukul Roy won the Krishnanagar North seat in the recent assembly polls, while his son was defeated from the Bijpur seat that he held in North 24 Parganas district. Subhranshu Roy joined the BJP in 2019.
On Friday, Abhishek Banerjee felicitated the father-son duo with shawls and formally inducted them into the TMC.