67-year-old Mukul Roy quit BJP in 44 months. Before the assembly elections, he had told the central leadership of the BJP that, ‘You fight the elections on these two factors, because it is difficult to win Bengal with Hindutva alone. 27% of the Muslim population is there and the election cannot be won by completely eliminating Muslims.’
However, Roy was sidelined in the assembly elections and the election was fought on the agenda of Hindutva. However, now the BJP is saying that, ‘Mukul’s re-joining of TMC will not affect the party’s prospects in the state.’
BJP may be showing that it did not mind the departure of Mukul Roy, but the reality is not like this. This is a big setback for the party and there are good reasons for it. In the next few months, elections are to be held in more than a hundred urban bodies of the state, which are pending for the last one and a half years. Its effect can be seen only in these elections.
Worked on the organization with Vijayvargiya, Menon
After joining BJP in November-2017, Mukul Roy played an important role in increasing the organization of BJP in the state. He was doing this work with BJP central leaders Kailash Vijayvargiya, Arvind Menon, Shiv Prakash.
But Mukul’s role was important because he knows the political system of Bengal more closely than the rest of the leaders. And when he came to BJP, hundreds of workers up to the booth level also joined the party with him.
Due to the formation of booth committees, BJP won 5759 (18%) seats in Gram Panchayat, 764 (13%) in Panchayat Samiti and 23 (4%) seats in Zilla Parishad in the 2018 Panchayat elections. And from here his chances of victory in the Lok Sabha got a boost.
Brought winning candidates from TMC to BJP
In the Lok Sabha elections, Mukul was made the chairman of the election management committee. He did most of the work on the candidate selection. Soumitra Khan from TMC, Arjun Singh, Nishith Pramanik and Khagen Murmu from Left Front were brought to BJP.
The leader of Matua community, Shantanu Thakur, was prepared for the BJP by Roy and Vijayvargiya. With the arrival of Thakur, the vote bank of the Matua community was affected by the BJP. There are one crore 80 lakh Matua voters in Bengal. They have a direct impact on more than 40 assembly seats. With Thakur joining the BJP, the party won the Bangaon and Barrackpore seats with Matua influence in the Lok Sabha. Due to all these factors, the party won 18 out of 42 Lok Sabha seats.
bypassed in assembly elections
Shubhendu Adhikari, Mamata Banerjee’s trusted and once number-two position in TMC, joined the BJP ahead of the assembly elections. Since then, Mukul Roy started being ignored somewhere. Neither did he campaign in the entire state nor was he given any major responsibility. Despite his excellent performance in the Lok Sabha, he was given the post of Vice-President in the organization by not giving him any post at the Centre. Whereas Mukul Roy wanted to go to the centre.
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya, author of the book ‘Bengal: A Saffron Experiment’ and who has a deep hold on Bengal politics, says, ‘Mukul’s departure from the BJP is certainly a big setback for the party, as he is an expert in building and running the organisation.’
Bhattacharya says, “There are 79 thousand booths in Bengal. BJP’s organization has been formed on about 70 thousand booths, but most of these booths are such that they are made up of workers from TMC or CPM. Many booths have been built, but they are not strong. A large number of workers, MLAs had also joined BJP along with Mukul. Now they too have started joining TMC.
“The members of the Gram Panchayat and Zilla Parishad are again returning to the TMC as they want to be with the ruling party. Being in opposition in Bengal is not easy. In such circumstances, if a big leader leaves the party, then surely there is bound to be a loss. Because the workers are already discouraged.
1500 branches of the union in the state
The Sangh has about 1500 shakhas in Bengal, but these are far less in terms of 79 thousand booths. BJP has 1300 Mandal committees, this is also not enough in terms of the number of booths. Now in the new circumstances, the workers of the village and Zilla Parishad, Mandal have started joining TMC. This is the biggest problem for BJP.
Senior journalist Somnath Nandi says MLA-MPs going to TMC will not make as much difference as the departure of these workers. Mukul Roy was an expert in this management and he knew which card to play, so BJP will be in trouble here. Roy also played a big role in bringing the Matua community closer to the BJP. In such a situation, this vote bank of the party can be scattered.