Mukul Roy and BJP: complex equations, ground realities

Pratim Ranjan Bose Kolkata. April 9 | Updated on January 23, 2018

Mukul Roy, Trinamool Congress MP

He needs a party to back him, the party needs a good leader. Will the two meet?

Will Mukul Roy, Trinamool Congress MP and the man who was in charge of the party organisation till February, join the BJP? The answer may be known in a month or so, depending on a couple of factors. The first is how the BJP fares in the upcoming civic body polls in Kolkata.

Ideally, the BJP ought to expect to claim a significant stake in the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), which will go to polls next week, exactly a year ahead of the Assembly election in West Bengal.

During the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the BJP’s vote share in the city had moved up two-fold to 24 per cent, higher than the State average of over 17 per cent. Out of 144 wards in the KMC, the BJP was leading in 26 and was in close contest in 31. If the results of the by-elections till February are of any significance, the BJP’s support base has gone up since May 2014.

This, coupled with unabated erosion in the Left Front’s vote share, and the alleged involvement of the TMC in the Saradha scam, should have gone in the BJP’s favour.

Inner party dissent

But the ground realities are not looking as bright, thanks mainly to inner party dissent.

The BJP headquarters in the city became a war zone on March 25 and 26, with party activists fighting openly over ticket distribution. Though State BJP chief Rahul Sinha linked it to the party’s growth and therefore demand for its ticket, the incident brought the organisational weaknesses in the open.

The mood is captured in the opinion polls. An AC Nielsen-ABP Ananda survey, released in early March, had predicted the BJP will get 15 per cent of the votes. On Wednesday, the Times of India Group lowered the prospects to 9 per cent.

Party insiders say a poor show may trigger a reshuffle in the BJP’s State leadership. This, in turn, may open new opportunities for Roy.

Roy, who built the TMC organisation from a loose army of people into a well oiled machinery, was sidelined by party supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in February.

Differences between the two cropped up after Roy was summoned by the CBI in connection with the Saradha Ponzi scheme probe.

Sources said Roy was summoned as a witness by the Central agency that had already arrested several top Trinamool functionaries, including MPs and even a State Cabinet minister, for their alleged involvement.

Even as the TMC criticised the CBI, Roy said he would cooperate with the investigators. To add to the TMC’s discomfort, sources said, none of the three Central agencies probing the scam — Serious Fraud Investigation Office, Enforcement Directorate and CBI — have found evidence of Roy’s involvement in it.

The bottomline is that if Roy’s name is cleared, he will turn into a potential asset to any party.

While Mamata was busy humiliating her most trusted aide, Roy, it is now clear, kept in touch with the top BJP leadership including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Apparently, a section of the senior BJP leadership has shown interest in Roy, to address the organisational weaknesses in West Bengal. However, a decision is not quick in coming due to the strong reservations of the State BJP leadership.

Crucial position

The KMC election will play a decider in this inner party debate on Roy, said observers. An unsatisfactory result in the civic body polls may see him assuming a crucial position in West Bengal BJP.

BJP national secretary and observer for West Bengal Sidharth Nath Singh, however, ruled out the possibility. “It’s (Roy joining BJP) absolutely rubbish. Such news leads are to be thrown in the dustbin,” he told BusinessLine.

Roy, meanwhile, emphasised that he is with the Trinamool Congress.

Published on April 09, 2015

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