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December 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.         December 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:Dec' 2017


Mukul under the Saffron scanner

Soumya Sinha

Mukul Roy, once the 'right-hand' man of Mamata Banerjee and the second- in-command of the Trinamool Congress, has joined the BJP to bring about a real change in Bengal. He reportedly promised to launch a "dharma yuddha'' against his former colleagues. But political analysts believe, being a strategist, Roy doesn't have the charisma to pose a real challenge to the mass leader in Mamata. Why? Simply because he is not at all a charismatic leader like Mamata, observes senior journalist SOUMYA SINHA.

Mukul Roy Is it a major jolt for Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress? Most of the party insiders do not think so. Is it a big gain for the BJP? Most saffron leaders prefer to reserve their comments. However, a section of political researchers are of the opinion that Mukul Roy's inclusion in the BJP will prove futile in the near future unless he can establish himself as a vote catcher for the saffron party. It is believed that Roy may prove himself a small headache for the TMC supremo; he doesn't have the charisma to damage Mamata's personal image and equations.


Initially, no remarkable quality of leadership was found in well-behaved Mukul Roy's political gesture. But his heart was full of loyalty and he could assess the situation well in advance. Such a human quality had made him a good follower, not a good leader at all. Somehow he used this quality with great intelligence as a ladder to reach the top. In fact, Roy couldn't achieve even minimum importance when he started his political activities in Kanchraparra, a railway town, almost three decades ago.
With the help of a local influential political leader he came in close touch with the then heavyweight Congress leader Somen Mitra to have his initial schooling in Bengal politics. But by virtue of his farsightedness he took no time to switch over his loyalty to the then emerging firebrand Youth Congress supremo, Mamata Banerjee. And that should be seen as the real beginning of Mukul's political career.
Since he played a vital role in floating the new political platform called the Trinamool Congress in 1997-98 and subsequently engineered a major exodus from the Congress, Mukul started enjoying tremendous confidence of Trinamool supremo Mamata. Being her most reliable follower, he found himself positioned as the second-incommand in the party. He was rewarded with the position of the All- India General Secretary of the TMC before Mamata nominated him as a member of the Rajya Sabha. Apart from his role in Bengal politics, Mamata assigned Mukul the task of opening party units in other states also. In all, everything was running smoothly even after Mamata became the Chief Minister of West Bengal.

Increasing distance

Suddenly, a crack developed on the bridge between the two. How? According to political observers, Mukul couldn't agree with Mamata's viewpoint on the Saradah pongy scam issue on the pretext of central agency investigation. Secondly, Mukul couldn't welcome the miracle emergence of Mamata's nephew Avishek Banerjee as a powerful leader of the party youth wing just before the Lok Sabha polls in 2014.
Perhaps, he took young Avishek as a threat to his position in the TMC. As a result, the unexpected rift started, ending in severing of the longstanding relations between Mamata Banerjee and her once most trusted lieutenant, Mukul Roy.

Up in arms

After managing a berth in the BJP, Roy took on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, her party and the government. What are his allegations? The atmosphere inside the TMC is totally suffocating. No one has the right to express his views freely. No democracy within the party. The state government unnecessarily confronts the Centre. It shouldn't be happening in a federal structure. Without taking any specific name, he expressed agony over dynastic politics also.

Roy's realization

The BJP is not at all a communal party. Mamata Banerjee got the ministerial berth at the Centre several times when the BJP-led NDA was in power. The TMC became the TMC with the help of the BJP. Roy wondered how Mamata is hobnobbing with the CPM and the Congress to stall the BJP march in West Bengal. He went on saying: In 1997, she left the Congress and floated the TMC only to combat the CPM, and after a long struggle the people of the state got rid of the long misrule of the CPMled Left Front government. Surprisingly, after grabbing power Mamata has been deviating from her traditional anti-CPM stand. It's really painful. But, raising the hope for the BJP, Mukul asserted that Bengal would experience the real 'Paribartan' in 2021.

Future prospects

In fact, it is too early to predict the political prospect of Roy in a regimented party like the BJP. At the same time, it seems very difficult for political analysts to assess rightly that at last how much dividend can be paid by this newcomer to provide a special mileage for the BJP in Bengal. Why? According to political researchers, although Roy is known to be a good organizer, he has failed to establish himself as a mass leader. Being a strategic leader, only he had gained the confidence of Mamata Banerjee and in course of time he became the second-in-command of the Trinamool Congress.
By virtue of his gesture like a theoretician, Mukul turned to be the 'Yes Man' of Mamata and engineered most of the vital political, organizational as well as administrative manipulations very smoothly and meticulously. Such a tactical practice made him something different inside the party. Naturally,

he enjoyed the special confidence of the Trinamool supremo. Above all, Mukul was the key personality who engineered the major exodus from the opposition parties, including the BJP, to ensure that the ruling TMC flourished in West Bengal. Therefore, a reasonable section of the saffron brigade now appears to be skeptical about the credibility and acceptability of Roy among the BJP supporters as well as the common people.
In addition, a good number of party leaders are learnt to have expressed their apprehension of Roy's shrewd political games which may sideline the original party leaders in future. There are reasons to believe that Roy will leave no stone unturned to grab the control of the West Bengal BJP in the near future to take revenge on the TMC and certainly to satisfy his own political ambition.
Not only that, some of the party men strongly believe that Mukul's alleged involvement in the Saradha and Narada scams is enough to damage the party's poll prospects in West Bengal. So, some saffron leaders deeply feel that Delhi should have given a second thought before welcoming him in the party.

Positive thoughts

On the contrary, Mukul Roy's absorption in the saffron party has definitely triggered some positive thinking also. The BJP claims that since he is fully aware of the weak points as well as the loopholes of the TMC, he can hit the street to expose the ruler of West Bengal successfully before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. As all the 77,000 booths in the state are at his fingertips, he can pose a tough challenge to Mamata Banerjee with regard to the election machinery also. They hope that by revealing so many irregularities in Mamata's party and her government Roy can envisage the way for the BJP to come to power in 2021. So, it is evident that if Mukul's appearance as a saffron leader happens to be a major blow for the Trinamool Congress, he will undoubtedly become the unchallenged leader within the Bengal BJP.
Let us see what Roy said in a bid to gain the confidence of the saffron camp: "People in the state are looking for an alternative and the BJP is moving towards fulfilling the aspiration...Those who can really bring about change should come to power now.''

Acid test

However, in the coming months the BJP leadership may prefer to observe newcomer Mukul Roy's course of action very minutely before considering a higher berth for him. It's learnt that in spite of having a strong political background, the former Railway Minister's style of functioning may be monitored closely by the BJP top brass. Initially, the party will examine his capability in Bengal and other states, including Gujarat. If he proves himself congenial to the new organizational atmosphere that will certainly add a special dimension to his score board.
In a gesture to remove confusion among party workers, state BJP President Dilip Ghosh stated, "We have promised to work together." In reply, Mukul also made it clear that he was ready to work under Dilip Ghosh. Interestingly, a section of political observers are of different opinion. They observe that whatsoever his performance may be, Mukul will ultimately find it very difficult to be the topper of the state BJP.
Even he may be dumped by the party any moment in case of his failure in combating the Mamata brigade. On condition of unanimity, a party insider opined that no one in the BJP was ready to accord a red carpet welcome to Mukul Roy. But we couldn't ignore the significance of the Mukul card at this juncture. However, party leaders wouldn't hesitate to welcome Mukul's son Shubhrangshu, the TMC MLA from Bijpur. In all, Mukulda happens to be under a scanner. Only the result of a fresh political acid test can help predict his future in the saffron fold.