KOLKATA: With Assembly elections coming up, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee on Monday rehabilitated party Rajya Sabha MP Mukul Roy by appointing him the party’s vice-president.
Roy, considered the mastermind behind TMC’s electoral strategies, was Mamata’s trusted second-in-command and used to maintain national level links with other political parties.
He had fallen out of Mamata’s favour after he responded to the CBI’s notice last year in January on the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam in a manner contrary to the TMC line; he refused to call it a “political conspiracy by the BJP-led government at the Centre”. He also admitted that he was present when Mamata met Saradha group chairman Sudipto Sen and Rose valley group chairman Gautam Kundu, both now behind bars, at midnight at a bungalow at Delo in Darjeeling.
After a meeting with her party’s core group in February last year, Mamata removed Roy as national general secretary and also as leader of the Parliamentary party. However, he remained a Rajya sabha member, though relegated to the back bench. He was shrewd enough never to criticise Mamata.
Though Roy had at the time met both Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and BJP leaders, and is known for his strong organisational skills and contacts with grassroots level workers in all 326 blocks in West Bengal, neither Congress nor BJP wanted to touch him because of his alleged involvement in the Saradha scam. His followers, in fact, even applied to the poll commission to register a new party, All India National Trinamool Congress.
By reinstating Roy, who has excellent terms with Muslim religious leaders in the state, Mamata has scored again politically, as her adversaries were eager to see him posing a threat to her during the state polls.