Will Mukul Roy joining BJP help Amit Shah's Bengal mission?

The by-election in the state and the 2018 panchayat elections are going to be an acid test.

 |  4-minute read |   08-11-2017
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It is not the season for mango buds — known as “mukul” in Bengali — but its whiff has taken over Bengal politics. There is excitement for Mukul Roy, of having to start from scratch and prove himself, after having been inducted into the BJP recently. Not just that, he faces the disappointment of friends-turned-foes, apprehension over new political buddies, and the weight of expectation on his slouching shoulders from a party that loves to flaunt its chest size.

His initiation in the party headquarters in Delhi had been far too humble, however — with big leaders like Ravi Shankar Prasad and Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta to welcome him, a bouquet and a torn “uttariya,” probably dug out from an old trunk. Obviously, there was no prior information or preparation. Mukul got a call from the party office and he rushed over, even though he was kept loitering for 20 minutes before the ceremony began.

The party’s national president, Amit Shah, who was present in his office, did not stir. Obviously, he did not want to be with Mukul Roy, sharing the same podium, which would be required to field uncomfortable questions on Narada and Saradha vis-à- vis the BJP’s strong stand on corruption.

Mukul was inducted sans post, sans title. Ravi Shankar Prasad dubbed the joining as “unconditional” on part of Mukul, a wish granted by the BJP because the former had desired so.

The ceremony over, Mukul met Shah at his chamber. There was an exchange of flowers and vows and Mukul came out pledging to execute Amit bhai’s great "Bengal Mission".

For the next couple of days, he was revisiting his contacts in BJP — Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley to ensure the enemies inside the party do not mess with him, considering his connection with the biggies.

The state BJP president, Dilip Ghosh, who was equating Mukul’s joining the BJP as nothing big but a dollop of sauce (chutney/payasam) to add a taste of variety to the staple and basic menu of chawal daal, sobered down.

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And Mukul returned home, West Bengal, like a hero. His route from the airport to BJP party office at Muralidhar Sen Street was flanked by supporters and placards stating “Mukul Roy swagatam”. There were orange marigold showers and the lotus logo on his ripemango coloured jacket.

It became obvious that Mukul was not alone or isolated in his desertion, as Trinamool Congress had made it look. Naturally, Mamata was flustered, though she had been maintaining a facade of indifference.

Her instruction to senior party leaders to meet district presidents twice a month to take stock of the ground situation and her tours to the districts — especially, where Mukul Roy had substantial hold — are evidence of the trepidation within. She’s rushing her nephew to the districts, replacing the Mukul loyalists both in the party and the administration, especially among the police rank and file, and implicating them in false cases. Tell-tale signs that she’s desperate to plug out the points and cause an exit and exodus.

What is worse is that Mukul, being the most trusted aide for more than a decade in Trinamool Congress and undoubtedly having enjoyed the number two position in the party, obviously at Mamata’s indulgence, has been her partner in cradle-and-crime. From time to time, Mukul is coming out with sheaves of documents and threatening to unravel many a secret.

Though he has given more or less a clean chit to Mamata as an individual on the Saradha and Narada scams, that was at a time when hard parleys were going on in BJP over taking him or not. Now that he has accepted Amit bhai as his “captain” and himself as just a disciplined soldier, there is no guarantee that he won’t let the cat out of the bag.

Ambitious and tenacious that he is, having worked his way from a mere employee of a wagon factory in the fringes of the city Kanchrapara, often sarcastically referred to as the Kanchrapara boy by his Trinamool Congress cronies, to the second most important position in the Trinamool Congress, there is no reason to suspect that the untitled and undesignated leader of the moment won’t struggle his way up for the future.

The immediate by-election in the state and the 2018 panchayat elections are going to be Mukul’s acid test in the BJP. Till then he’s ready to digest all the caustic barbs and the alkaline tanginess down the gullet.

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)

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Writer

Romita Datta Romita Datta

The writer is Associate Editor, India Today.

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