If Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee had suffered from even an iota of anxiety over the much-awaited press conference of her once trusted lieutenant Mukul Roy following his resignation from Rajya Sabha, it would have been completely misplaced. Beyond some tangential references to “dynastic” politics and the TMC being a “one-man party”, Roy’s media address on Wednesday, conducted in his characteristic low-key style, was completely devoid of fireworks.
He even ended up giving Banerjee a clean chit in the Narada and Saradha cases, calling them work of “individuals”. “She had no knowledge (of them),” Roy maintained. Roy also neither revealed his own plans — he has met several senior BJP leaders over the last few days — nor did he comment on the three-year tenure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Earlier in the day, Roy met Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu and submitted his resignation from Rajya Sabha, choosing not to continue in a post that he had won as a TMC leader. This comes days after he announced the decision to leave the party he had helped set up in 1997 — in fact, as party general secretary he had informed the Election Commission of Mamata Banerjee joining the new party along with a breakaway faction of the Congress.
In an attempt to take the wind out of Banerjee’s anti-BJP sails, Roy, holding up copies of official documents he had signed at the inception of TMC, said: “We fought the 1998 elections as an ally of the BJP. In 1999, (TMC) fought the elections as a part of the NDA. Mamata Banerjee was Railways Minister in that government and Ajit Panja (TMC leader who died in 2008) was an MoS.”
Without naming Banerjee, and her stated opposition to different BJP leaders over the years, Roy said, “One day, (saying) Vajpayee is good and Advani is bad, one day Advani is good Modi is bad, and one day Modi is and good and Amit Shah bad…this cannot go on for too long. A one-man party is not good. In a political party, we are all comrades, nobody is a servant.”
Asked whether he is leaving the TMC due to its dynastic politics, Roy said, “May be. Dynastic politics is not good for the country.” It is widely believed that while the public falling out between Roy and Banerjee occurred after the former appeared for CBI questioning in the Saradha case, the seeds had been sown long ago — over Banerjee’s decision to promote nephew Abhishek in the party. Abhishek is a TMC Lok Sabha MP from Diamond Harbour.
Roy, however, defended the BJP’s decision to field senior ministers to defend Jay Shah, son of party president Amit Shah, after the website The Wire published a report stating that his company’s turnover grew exponentially after 2014. “It is not dynastic politics because he (Jay) is not a part of the party,” Roy said.
Roy also made clear his antipathy to the Congress: “Trinamool Congress was set up to oppose the Congress. We went to the people with the slogan 3G — to highlight Congress corruption in coal, 2G and CWG. Now if we think that the country cannot run without the Congress, then I think we (TMC and Congress) should merge.”