Amid reports of Trinamool Congress national general secretary Mukul Roy planning to split the party, a visibly irritated West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday refused to give a direct reply to a poser concerning her one-time second-in-command and directed a media person to put the question to her party’s block level presidents instead.
Banerjee, till then in a good mood as she was interacting with the media after Trinamool’s impressive showing in the by-polls in the state, got angry when a reporter sought her comments on the perception that the Bharatiya Janata Party was pitting Roy against her.
“I think you shouldn’t ask me this question. You should not ask me this question. You ask my block presidents. They will give you the reply. There are so many,” said the Trinamool supremo.
Rubbishing any talk of a split and internal bickering in the Trinamool, Banerjee said: “We are the number one strong party not only in India but in the world. No one can divide Trinamool.
“If any individual gives his opinion, they have the prerogative. But the party remains strong and united and this is our collective family.”
Roy, a former railway minister, has seemingly fallen out with Banerjee after his interrogation by the Central Bureau of Investigation in connection with the multi-crore rupee Saradha ponzi scam.
A founding member of the Trinamool, he has distanced himself from the party and shied away from attacking the BJP over the past few weeks. Credited as the architect of Trinamool’s stunning electoral victories in recent years, he played a minor role in Friday’s by-poll to Bongaon Lok Sabha and Krishnaganj assembly constituencies.
Two days back, Banerjee effected a series of organisational reshuffles in what is being termed as a move to clip Roy’s wings. Banerjee had also questioned Roy’s absence from a closed door meeting and complained that he was not carrying out his duties or responding to her summons.
Meanwhile, replaying to queries from scribes, Roy iterated that the BJP was emerging as the principal opposition force in the state. The BJP had substantially increased its vote percentage in both Bongaon and Krishnaganj, and even finished runner-up in the latter.
“In the state, the Trinamool has kept its strength intact. As for the main opposition space, the Left is becoming irrelevant and the BJP is making progress. In fact, the CPI-M and the BJP are now fighting neck and neck to emerge as the main opposition. With every passing day, the opposition space is shifting to the BJP,” he said.
Roy said it was everybody’s responsibility to help the CBI in the Saradha chit fund scam probe so as to punish the guilty.
“The poor people lost everything by depositing money with the Saradha Group. The money trail needs to be probed. The guilty must be punished.”
However, he noted that the state government had initiated the investigation and arrested the purported Amain culprit (Saradha Group chief Sudipta Sen).
“Later, following a Supreme Court order, an investigating agency is now probing the matter. Questions may be raised about the course of the probe. It (CBI) has not taken over the probe on its own, but after a Supreme Court order. I again iterate, that everyone has to help in the probe. Law will take its course,” Roy told private television channel ABP Ananda.
Roy said during his long innings in politics, he has “been with the people”. “I was with the people, am with the people, and will be with the people. The workers and the supporters love me.”