KOLKATA: West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress on Monday took a swipe at ex-party stalwart-turned-BJP leader Mukul Roy, citing the string of incidents over the BJP's candidate in the upcoming Noapara assembly bypolls that left its state unit red-faced and advising him to focus on party organisation.
Refuting the Bharatiya Janata Party's allegation that their nominated candidate in Noapara was arm-twisted by Trinamool to express her loyalty towards the ruling party, its Secretary General Partha Chatterjee said Roy should focus on strengthening his party's organisation instead of resorting to "gimmicks".
"Someone's loyalty towards (Trinamool supremo) Mamata Banerjee cannot be induced by invoking fear. The man from Kachrapara would not be able to do anything by resorting to these sort of gimmicks," Chatterjee said in a veiled reference to Roy who defected from Trinamool in November last year.
"He should rather focus on strengthening (his party's) organisation. First he should look to firm his seat within the party he has entered and then think about Bengal," he added.
The BJP central leadership had on Sunday announced the name of Manju Basu, two-time Trinamool MLA from Noapara as the party's candidate for the by-election but hours later, Basu said she will not fight on a BJP ticket as she continues to remain a loyal soldier of Mamata Banerjee.
Basu, known to be a close associate of Roy during his days in Trinamool, held regular talks with the BJP in the past few days after being denied a ticket from the seat by Trinamool this year but her sudden change in stance left the state BJP leadership confused.
Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh on Monday said Basu was put under "tremendous pressure" by the Trinamool leaders including Mamata Banerjee, not to leave the party.
"Manju Basu agreed to fight the election in BJP ticket when she was approached and also met our party secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya. But she was put under tremendous pressure by the Trinamool leader and party. She got several calls from Banerjee. She had to step back under pressure," he alleged.
In a bid at damage control, the BJP on Monday announced the name of Sandip Banerjee, party's Barrackpore district chief, to contest the Noapara seat.
The assembly seat fell vacant following the death of sitting Congress member Madhusudan Ghose a few months ago.
Trinamool has already nominated Sunil Singh while the Left Front nominee would be CPI-M's Gargi Chatterjee. Congress has fielded Gautam Basu as their candidate.
The bypoll would be held on January 29.