Mukul Roy, Mamata Banerjee’s longtime lieutenant but lately sidelined, differs with her in their interpretation of the Trinamool Congress’s performance in a Lok Sabha and an assembly bypoll. While Mamata has described the victory as a “miracle”, her MP has noted that the results show that the BJP is gaining in a state where it had hardly any presence until a few years back.
Roy arrived in Delhi on Monday evening, around the same time that his party was celebrating with green Holi colours and his leader had snubbed journalists who wanted to ask about Roy.
“I had always said that we would win with a comfortable margin, which we did. Our vote share is intact,” Roy said. “But the results show that the Left is becoming increasingly irrelevant and that space is being taken by the BJP. The BJP is getting more powerful. Their vote share has increased.”
The BJP, whose vote share wasn’t even in two digits in the 2009 Lok Sabha and 2011 assembly polls, gained in the LS polls last year and built its way to 25 (Bongaon LS) and 29 per cent (Krishnaganj assembly) in the bypolls.
“The Congress too has become irrelevant,” Roy said. “The BJP’s acceptance is clearly increasing.”
Roy, who was stripped of all his organisational responsibilities in a Trinamool reshuffle earlier this week, seems to be avoiding his leader. He is due to return to Kolkata on February 19 when Mamata leaves for Dhaka, where she is the chief guest at a “language day” celebration. He returns to Delhi two days later, which means he will not be in Kolkata when Mamata is back.
Roy fell out with Banerjee reportedly over his insistence on appearing before the CBI after it summoned him in the Saradha case and presenting his side of the story. He did ask for, and get, some time from the investigating agency but the chasm widened after his first deposition. Even MP Dinesh Trivedi, whom Roy had once replaced as railway minister and who had less than a month ago praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been elevated in the Trinamool organisation ahead of Roy.
On record, Roy has denied being upset with the organisational changes in the party. He has said that in a situation where the party has gone from one MP to 34 in the Lok Sabha and is running a state government too, more people are needed to shoulder the increasing burden. On Tuesday, he attended a meeting of the consultative committee on home affairs. He will return to Delhi, he says, to attend a meeting of the committee on urban development on February 22.
He has denied reports about plans to launch a new political party. “Let the speculation thrive. Indira Gandhi had said all publicity is good publicity,” he says.
Trinamool sources in Kolkata are, however, whispering about how it was the noncooperation of Roy that cost the party votes in the Krishnaganj assembly seat. On being reminded how the chief minister had referred journalists to block presidents to ask about the importance of Roy in the party, the man who was once number two in the Trinamool organisation now says: “Why talk about all that?”