Bengal's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), now being directed by Mukul Roy - once a top Trinamool Congress strategist, is witnessing many party leaders of the state’s incumbent formation (TMC) switching sides ahead of the crucial 2019 general elections.
Kolkata/ New Delhi: In Bengal’s saffron camp, green is the colour of the season. If you are a Trinamool Congress renegade you are cordially welcome, no matter how politically inactive you are.
Thanks to the state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership, that is now being directed by Mukul Roy - once a top Trinamool Congress strategist, many party leaders of the state’s incumbent formation have switched sides ahead of the crucial 2019 general elections.
Be it Shonku Panda, a local television channel journalist-turned Trinamool students' arm chief whose name got embroiled into the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam and Narada sting operation, Anupam Hazra - a Trinamool MP from Bolpur who got expelled for anti-party activities, or Arjun Singh – a sitting legislator of the ruling party who was denied a Lok Sabha ticket from Barrackpore parliamentary seat, they have all joined the BJP in Bengal.
In a bid to earn some political brownie points, Mukul Roy - once a trusted lieutenant of Mamata Banerjee, played a key role in welcoming these renegades to the lotus brigade.
Now the question remains, whether the induction of these Trinamool Congress politicians would enrich the BJP in getting electoral mileage in the forthcoming poll season or not.
A sneak-peek would help get a clear picture of the relentless efforts by Roy in that direction, at a time when the BJP was naturally doing well at the grassroots across the State owing to anti-incumbency factors.
Arjun Singh, a four-term Trinamool lawmaker from Bhatpara constituency in Kolkata’s neighbouring North 24-Parganas, joined the BJP on Thursday in New Delhi.
Singh was one of the powerful and aggressive Hindi language leaders of Trinamool Congress and was the party’s Hindi wing president. He was also the chairman of Bhatpara municipality. Earlier, he had fought the Lok Sabha elections from Barrackpore seat in 1999 and 2004 respectively but lost to Tarit Baran Topdar of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
A Trinamool strongman, Singh had several police cases, including attempt to murder, to his name. In June 2014, the Trinamool lawmaker had triggered ruckus as the police stopped his vehicle for jumping a signal on BT Road.
Singh who took a dig at the Trinamool supremo after joining BJP in the capital wanted a Lok Sabha berth alleging that the voters of Barrackpore were not happy with sitting lawmaker and former railway minister in UPA-II Dinesh Trivedi. But Trivedi has been re-nominated. He said: "The Maa-Mati-Manush (Mother-Land-People) party has now become all about Money-Money-Money."
Panda who began his career as a local television channel journalist came in contact with the Trinamool chief during the Nandigram-Singur movement. He soon left his job and joined the party. He later became one of the general secretaries for Trinamool Congress in the State. He was also the president of West Bengal Trinamool Congress Chatra Parishad (WBTMCP).
Panda was quizzed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in December 2014 for his alleged connection in the multi-crore Saradha chitfund scam. Panda was even featured in the Narada sting operation where he was seen making some illegitimate political deals with the interviewer. Panda was hand-picked by Roy in Trinamool Congress.
Quite naturally after the latter’s expulsion, Panda was side-lined in the party and was looking for a political option. The poaching attempt came at the right time ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. Panda never took part in parliamentary politics for any political party so far. He was always seen doing the crowd-management job during Mamata’s mammoth road shows in Kolkata.
Anupam Hazra was a Trinamool Congress MP from Bolpur in Birbhum district of West Bengal. He was a professor at Visva-Bharati University at Santiniketan. He was elected to Lok Sabha in May 2014. Hazra was expelled from the party citing anti-party activity. The district Trinamool Congress president Anubrata Mondal also termed Hazra a "bad human being" who ventured into politics. The Trinamool first-time MP was barely seen addressing meetings in the locality. He mostly stayed absent from regular political activities in his district in the past five years, sources said.
According to political observers, the BJP in Bengal is only welcoming political rots who utterly failed in the past years as "people’s men". Being in the state’s ruling party, they only tried to reap political benefits and got embroiled in monetary dealings, earning a bad name among the masses.
"It will take some time to see if these moves are actually helping the BJP in Bengal. But it is true that these announcements are creating some political de-stability in certain constituencies before the elections. But it is too early to say whether it will get translated into the voting margins or not," political analyst Udayan Bandopadhyay told MyNation.
He said that the Trinamool Congress had earlier played the same tricks by attracting defectors from the state’s Congress and CPI-M and offered them plum posts in the party. "Now the BJP in Bengal is going to be the next TMC 2.0," Bandopadhyay said smilingly.
Recently, reports are also doing rounds that the state BJP leaders are in talks with former Kolkata mayor and ex-minister Sovan Chatterjee and his friend Boisakhi Banerjee. Chatterjee resigned from Trinamool Congress following a tiff with Mamata Banerjee over his friendship issue with Boishakhi.
Mukul Roy was also seen visiting Trinamool MLA and Bidhannagar mayor Sabyasachi Dutta at his residence at a time when the political duos are heading towards a crucial showdown in the state.
Last Updated 1:14 PM IST