In a big blow to the saffron brigade, senior BJP leader Mukul Roy along with son Subhranshu returned to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Friday in the presence of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata.
Roy, who held the position of the national vice president in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said he was "happy to see all known faces again". "I have joined TMC today. In the present circumstances, no one will stay in the BJP," he added.
Addressing a press meet after the re-joining ceremony, Banerjee said Roy was threatened and tortured in the BJP, and that, in turn, affected his health. "Mukul's return proves that the BJP does not let anyone live in peace and put's undue pressure on everyone," the chief minister said.
Speculation had been rife for some time on a possible "gharwapsi" by Mukul Roy, who had crossed over to BJP in 2017 after being charged in the Narada tape sting, ever since Banerjee's nephew Abhishek visited his wife at a city hospital earlier this month.
Meanwhile, the West Bengal BJP leaders have slammed Mukul Roy after his "gharwapsi". BJP MP Arjun Singh said Roy was never a public leader and that his time in politics is up.
"Mukul Roy was never a public leader. In WB, politics can't be done from AC room. His time in politics is up. Nobody trusts him. Everybody had info that he provides internal info of BJP to TMC. If rivals get to know your planning, it causes you loss," Singh said.
"Opportunists in politics do this. There was a rift between Abhishek Banerjee and him...he then joined BJP...he'll keep coming & going. He won an election for the first time, that too on BJP symbol. He should've resigned before going," he added.
West Bengal BJP General Secretary Sayantan Basu said Roy leaving BJP is unfortunate, however, he added that it would not have a great impact.
"Mukul Roy was made national vice president. He didn't refuse it. Even when he was offered to contest from Krishnanagar north on BJP ticket for this election, he didn't refuse. I don't know, maybe tomorrow he'll say that he's not feeling good in TMC," he said.
"He has left the party, it's unfortunate. But you should remember that many big leaders, much bigger than Mukul Roy, had left BJP earlier. Today, not even one BJP worker went with him. So, he can leave the party but I don't think it'll have a great impact on our org," he added.
BJP MP Khagen Murmu said Roy's return to the TMC will not affect the BJP. "Mukul Roy had left TMC & joined BJP before me. He played a good role in our party's organisational work with proper respect. Today I got to know that he returned to TMC. It's totally his matter. He can say about it. But it will never impact our party," said Murmu.
Meanwhile, West Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said that he was not sure if the BJP would lose anything from Roy's decision, given that he was "unsure whether we gained anything" from his entry three-and-half years back.
"Right now, we are bothered about more serious issues as the cycle of violence goes on unabated in the state. We are bothered about the safety of our workers, who are being targeted by TMC activists," he added.