Trinamool Congress national spokesperson Derek O’Brien on Thursday said that after the organisational changes last week, Mukul Roy is no longer the number two in the party. Though he remains the leader of the TMC Parliamentary party, Roy will not represent it in the all-party meeting convened by the Lok Sabha speaker on Sunday either. The two chief whips in the two Houses, Kalyan Banerjee in the Lok Sabha and O’Brien in the Rajya Sabha, will attend the meeting.
This is the first official admission that Roy, who had always been the first among equals inside the party, no longer enjoys the same equation with Mamata. Roy, who has been in Delhi for the past few days, will return to Kolkata soon after Mamata flies out to Dhaka on Thursday night. On O’Brien’s comments, Roy said he was never the number two in the party. Though he did not answer questions about whether he plans to join the BJP or any other party, sources close to him said that immediately after the TMC’s wins in the recent by-elections at Bongaon and Krishnagunj, the leader who in charge of the Lok Sabha seat called up Roy to congratulate him, describing it as a victory of the party organisation he had built.
The TMC, however, has credited Diamond Harbour MP Abhishek Banerjee for the wins.
“The designation of Mukul Roy remains unchanged; his role has been revised. There are designations and there are roles, you can draw your own conclusions. But it is now wrong to assume that in the party structure, he comes right after the chairperson. The party has been restructured. The fact that the organisational reshuffle was announced before the election results was meant to send the message that the party is beyond individuals,” O’Brien said.
Asked about the perception that clipping Roy’s wings is linked to the rise of Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek in the party, O’Brien described the latter as a “talented politician and one of the best orators in the party who delivered these by-poll wins under difficult circumstances. Being the leader’s blood relative should not disqualify you.”
Roy, meanwhile, reacted, “Does promoting Rahul Gandhi (in the Congress) mean clipping Ahmed Patel’s wings? As for the perception of my being number two in the party, that was never the case. Power is earned not bestowed. I hope under the new dispensation, Trinamool will do very well and, in future, rule the country.”
Abhishek said that he is a worker of the party and the workers are the ones who make a leader. “I do not want to get into personal comparisons like Rahul Gandhi and Ahmed Patel. I want to remain a worker of the party,” he said.
In a meeting held two days before announcement of the poll results, Mamata had elevated Lok Sabha MP Subarata Bakshi to the level of general secretary — before that Roy alone was occupying that post — and had also formed a three member “secretariat” of O’Brien, Lok Sabha MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar and state minister Firhad Hakim to “assist” her.