Mukul Roy, one of the founding leaders of the Trinamool Congress (TMC), officially joined the BJP on Friday. Roy’s entry, BJP leaders said, would strengthen the party’s electioneering and ground-level organisation in West Bengal, where the BJP is locked in a fierce battle with the ruling TMC.
“His experience will benefit us surely, I believe,” said Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who welcomed Roy to the party at the BJP headquarters on Friday evening. BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, who had been working to bring Roy on board, was also present.
Roy said, “Today I have joined the BJP and it is my proud privilege to work under PM Modi.” BJP chief Amit Shah was not on the dais when Roy joined the party. Shah later met Roy at the party office.
Roy quit the TMC last month and resigned from the Rajya Sabha following his fallout with party chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. After quitting TMC, Roy had said members in a party “should be comrades and not servants”.
While a section of the BJP led by Vijayvargiya wanted Roy to join the party, another section had expressed reservations, pointing out that the party had targeted Roy for his alleged involvement in the Saradha scam. This group had argued that the BJP, which wants to build its campaign on the plank of Modi’s zero tolerance for corruption, would find it difficult to explain to its cadre the induction of leaders with a tainted image.
However, a senior leader had told The Indian Express. “No one has the political shrewdness and networking on the ground like Mukul Roy in West Bengal. His knowledge till the booth level is unique. He will be like Himanta Biswa Sarma in Assam. He has the ability to make the party stronger and bring electoral gains.”
Just as Sarma had become significant in BJP’s strategising in the Northeast, Roy’s experience would be an asset for the party before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the leader said on Friday. West Bengal is among the states where the BJP is eyeing around 150 seats.
Roy told journalists on Friday that “restoring democracy” in West Bengal would be his priority. “I will work for restoration of democracy in Bengal, that will be my first task. I am a national-level politician, I will try to see that people in Bengal can at least vote according to their choice. If people can cast their votes in panchayat polls, the BJP will wrest power from the TMC in least in 5 zila parishads,” he said.
“I am an organisational man. People of Bengal have turned against the TMC government. I am sure that in the Lok Sabha polls in 2019 and Assembly elections in 2021, the BJP will win Bengal,” he added.
In him, BJP might have got an organisational man who has a reach deep inside the TMC — this is probably why Roy was inducted into the party rather than being encouraged to set up his own outfit and ally with the NDA.
(with PTI inputs)