With the Assembly elections in West Bengal only months away, three state BJP leaders, including Mukul Roy, were given prominent posts in the new national team announced by party president J P Nadda on Saturday.
While Roy has been appointed BJP national vice-president, Anupam Hazra and Raju Bista have been made national secretary and national spokesperson, respectively.
However, the party dropped Rahul Sinha from the post of BJP national secretary, triggering open dissension.
In a video message, Sinha said, “I have given so many years to the BJP. I have given my 40 years to the party. The award I received is that a TMC leader is coming, so I have to leave. My party has rewarded me, and I have nothing to say. Whatever I have to say, I will say in the next 10 or 12 days.”
Sinha, who had served two back-to-back terms as the state BJP president and was appointed as a national secretary of the party in 2015, was referring to the elevation of Roy and Hazra.
Roy, once number two in the Trinamool Congress, joined the BJP in November 2017 and later became its national executive committee member. He played a vital role in BJP’s ascendancy in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, and as a strategist, facilitated entry of TMC leaders into the party.
A former MP, Hazra joined the BJP in March 2019 after he was expelled from the TMC. Bista is a BJP MP from Darjeeling.
Speaking to mediapersons following his appointment as BJP national vice-president, Roy said, “The BJP is the world’s largest party. I pay my respect to party president J P Naddaji. I accept the responsibility with humility. I am thankful to our leader Narendra Modiji and to Amit Shahji. Just like our party grew when Amit Shahji was the party president, we will now help the party grow under JP Naddaji. After Bihar, a number of states, including Bengal and Assam, will go to polls. Though I am a voter from Delhi, I was born in Bengal. This is my state. Bengal will go to the Assembly polls in March, April or May. Along with leaders such as Dilip Ghosh here, we will try and bring victory for the BJP in Bengal.”
The move, according to state leaders, will boost Bengal’s participation in the national BJP team.
“Although Mukul da became the chief party strategist for Bengal after joining the BJP , he was not holding any party post. Later, he became a member of the national executive committee. He was the man behind many defections in the TMC. He was also the key strategist in the Lok Sabha polls in which the BJP bagged 18 seats. This post and respect were due to him,” said a BJP leader close to Roy.
Roy’s elevation is being seen as an attempt by the party to utilise the formal TMC leader’s talent of poll strategy ahead of next year’s Assembly elections. The induction of Raju Bista and Anupam Hazra in the party’s central team is also seen as a step in the direction.
Moreover, Roy’s elevation could be seen as an effort by the party to placate the leader amid reports of souring ties with state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh. The announcement came after the party’s central leadership ironed out the differences between Roy and Ghosh. There has been unease between the old-timers under Ghosh and the TMC defectors under Roy.
By giving prominence to Roy — once a close aide of TMC chief Mamata Banerjee — the BJP has also signalled TMC leaders, who are keen to quit the party, that they would be aptly rewarded if they switched sides ahead of the polls.
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