Kolkata: Senior BJP leader Mukul Roy Sunday emphatically said he was not re-joining the Trinamool Congress (TMC), amid speculation in political circles that he was looking to return to his old party.
“A group of journalists were bribed by some elements in the Trinamool Congress to malign my image,” Roy told ThePrint in an exclusive interview.
“Vested interests acting across parties are against me, fuelling ‘suspicion’ and ‘confusion’ about my role in the BJP,” he added.
Over the past few days, rumours have been rife that Roy had been secretly meeting some top Trinamool leaders, including the party’s national general secretary Subarta Bakshi, and that he was in an uncomfortable situation in the BJP due to his equations with a group of senior state party leaders.
‘Vested interests working against me’
Speaking to ThePrint, Roy insisted that none of the allegations and speculation are true.
“I will demand an investigation into such defaming and maligning reports being published against me,” Roy said. “I have information that a section of the media was heavily bribed to publish such news. I am mulling legal action against them.”
“There are some elements in Trinamool Congress and outside, who are deliberately trying to damage my political career in the BJP,” he added. “By spreading all these rumours, they are trying to fuel suspicion and confusion among BJP leaders and workers, so that they do not trust me on anything. It is a well thought design, and it is being marketed carefully by Trinamool’s strategists.”
About the news of Roy meeting senior Trinamool leaders, he said, “I was the general secretary of the party and if I meet someone, then it will be a big news. And people will know about it. There is no question of me secretly meeting any senior leader. I never tried to meet any Trinamool leader ever. My political future is safe in the BJP.”
‘No unease in the BJP’
The speculation that Roy was looking to leave the BJP had gained currency, particularly after his absence from a high-level party meeting, over the West Bengal elections, in New Delhi this week.
Roy, however, told ThePrint that he attended a couple of meetings and then returned to Kolkata for eye treatment.
“I take injections and that is scheduled. I cannot miss such medical appointments,” he said. “I returned to Kolkata after taking approval for the party’s central leaders.”
He pointed out that the Trinamool Congress government had slapped multiple criminal cases against him as a means to intimidate and threaten him.
“The ruling party has slapped 44 criminal cases against me in the past two years. So, if they are so willing to take me back, do they admit that all these cases were false and politically motivated?” he asked. “Some vested interests are working against me. I will surely demand a probe into it. It is unacceptable, even in politics.”
He also rubbished claims of his ‘discomfort and unease’ in the BJP. “I am a member of the national executive committee,” he said. “I was in charge of the election committee too. So my roles in the party are defined and I never felt insecure about it.”
Whispers in state BJP but central leadership backs Roy
BJP’s national general secretary and the party’s West Bengal in-charge Kailash Vijayvargiya termed the rumours as “nothing but a conspiracy”.
“We are watching this development very closely. Trinamool Congress’s poll strategist and the nephew of chief minister Mamata Banerjee (Abhishek Banerjee) hatched this conspiracy against Mukul da,” he said. “He will respond to such wild allegations and speculation against him. They are trying to portray BJP as a divided house, but let me tell them, unlike Trinamool, BJP is a regimented party. It has discipline.”
A couple of days ago, it was widely reported that Roy removed all banners and posters of PM Modi and Amit Shah from his residence in Delhi.
Swapan Dasgupta, BJP’s RS MP, tweeted about it Sunday morning, calling it “fake” news.
It is astonishing how a fake news of @MukulR_Official taking down Modi-BJP hoardings from his Delhi residence has been repeated across multiple news portals. The dull reality is the hoardings were taken down in February 2020 as per ECI guidelines during Delhi Assembly polls.
— Swapan Dasgupta (@swapan55) July 26, 2020
A section of the state BJP unit, however, isn’t convinced of Roy’s intentions. “Mukul da did not participate in any party programme for the last 25 days. Some of his close aides have also stayed away from the party office,” said a senior BJP leader who did not wish to be named. “He generally deals with the central leadership directly and the state committee of BJP has not much information about him.”
The leader added, “He also informed Dilip da (Dilip Ghosh, state BJP president) that he would not be able to join party programmes for some time in view of the Covid outbreak. He said that he has some severe co-morbid issues.”
ThePrint contacted senior Trinamool leaders for their comments on the situation. “I would not make any comment on this,” said Subrata Bakshi, the party’s national general secretary.
Texts to Derek O’ Brien, the Trinamool’s national spokesperson, elicited no response. This report will be updated when a response is received.
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.