I had explained in great details in my last article how BJP is shifting gears in Bengal. From taking an aggressive stance to taking on the appeasement centric politics of Mamata, to paying attention to the grasroot level & restructuring booth committees – they have their goal fixed – ‘Mamata hatao Bengal Bachao’
They have ironed out the internal party differences and are working like a well oiled machine, readying themselves for a juggernaut. In this aggressive and expansive movement, an important aspect has been co-opting of important disgruntled leaders from other parties.
Many genuine supporters of BJP have questioned the morality of this decision and the lack of ethics in such a move. But BJP has realized some things particularly in regards to Bengal.
A. They lack a credible face , grassroot level politicians and mass leaders in Bengal.
B. To win Bengal they have to get your hands dirty.
C. They have to expand their base & presence across the state, which at present is quite limited & confined within a boundary.
Thus inducting Mukul Roy, the once trusted lieutenant of Mamata Banerjee and who has been with the Trinamool Congress since its founding, is just another step towards this expansion and overriding the boundary conditions. Now let us analyse the impacts of Mukul Roy joining BJP and what consequences it might have on Bengal politics.
1. Comparisons have been made with Himanta Biswa Sarma of Assam . Himanta was one of the catalysts of BJP’s stunning win in Assam and many feel Mukul Roy can have a similiar impact. It is true to some extent but not entirely.
The major difference is that Mukul Roy is not a mass leader like Sarma. He never was. So if people are expecting some magic overnight and cadres of TMC joining BJP because of this, it might not happen. Not instantly, anyway. Nobody at this moment can match the mass appeal and rural connect that Mamata has in Bengal. Mukul Roy’s effect will be that of a silent killer and not a blitzkrieg. He will keep a low profile and will try to establish himself as a party man. He will be the brain behind every move from now on in Bengal. He will work in the background without any media attention.
2. Mukul Roy will bring Experience, something BJP Bengal lacks – experience of setting up booth committees, experience of filtering out the voter list and choosing the right candidate for the right constituency, experience of Micro management of each zillas, panchyats and municipality. He will be the party’s main election designer.
His first test in politics came during the 1991 elections when Mamta Banerjee appointed him as one of her political agents who also looked after her campaign. Roy swung into action and worked tirelessly to make her campaign a success. He never looked back. Each & every election which the TMC fought, he was their chief in charge. He knows the demography of each booth and accordingly he will chalk out a plan for each of them. He will establish a connect with his workers and local leaders. He will also try to penetrate the swing voter base.
3. At the press conference which he did after resigning as Rajya Sabha MP from Trinamool he said and I quote, “I know each constituency of Bengal & can put up a candidate in each of them”.
He was not exaggerating. Being the co-founder of TMC he probably knows each TMC cadres name. The only other notable man in Trinamool who has such in-depth knowledge at cadre level is Subroto Mukhopadhay. The effect may not be instant as I said before but Mukul is a shrewd operator. He knows which buttons to press and when. He knows weakness of each TMC leader which BJP will use in the future.
Being the chief election organiser of TMC he knows how the TMC approaches elections.
There has been reports of internal fights between various segments of TMC. There is a constant fight for tickets and the ultimate decision lies with Mamata. Mukul will use his contacts to make the other disgruntled members put pressure on Mamata and create an internal rift. He will have an influence by which he can put up that particular ‘disgruntled’ candidate as dummy independent candidate if not make him/her join BJP.
Result- cancellation of TMC votes. Particularly the votes among the minority section which is the main weapon of TMC.
4. Mukul will be the bridge to bring the intellectuals (Bhadraloks) close to BJP.
An important aspect in Bengal politics is the influence of eminent intellectuals and Bhadraloks. They have far-reaching influence. Without the support of writer Mahasheta Devi, poet Shanka Ghosh and other eminent intellectuals it would have been difficult for Mamata to grab attention in the Bhadralok corridor which was so ‘left ‘ inclined. The person responsible for this was none other than Mukul Roy. Whether it was the intellectual support during Nandigram movement or Singur, Mukul ensured that the entire lot was up and campaigning for Mamata and even rallying and doing road shows for the party. It was from this Singur Nandigram movement the Mamata magic started capturing the minds of Bengalis. At present these groups are hostile towards BJP. With Mukul Roy in the fray expect more intellectual gatherings and sammelans. To penetrate the minds of the urban population, particularly among older & middle age groups you need some of them to campaign for you. There will be a direct reach out to them to make them switch over. Having worked with these group in past, he knows how to deal with them and how to use them to the party’s benefit.
5. In fact, Mukul was even coordinating with leaders from other parties to support Mamata during the movement. Whether it was from congress or BJP, he was in touch with all of them during that time. He was the man who Mamata Banerjee trusted to turn this small farmer’s movement into a national event. He held closed-door meetings with various groups opposed to the CPM and yet remained low profile.
While she camped in Kolkata holding protests and even her 26-day fast, it was Roy who, along with others, travelled across the state reviving the organisation and getting new members into the AITC fold. He was the one who mobilised the mobs on the ground level and created the hawa of ‘Poriborton’.
Another effect which can’t be ruled out is the effect on already weakened Left and Congress units in Bengal. It could have a domino effect with some prominent leaders joining the ranks of BJP. It could be catastrophic for them. Mukul Roy has a very cordial relationship with all political leaders across party line. So from now on if any heavy weight leaders cross over to Bengal BJP from other parties it will be fair to assume that Roy must have played a role. This could make the contest bipolar in upcoming elections or even make TMC join hands with Congress to stop BJP from coming to power. This was perhaps another reason for Amit Shah to take Mukul Roy in BJP. Otherwise Mukul Roy could have floated a new party and formed a 3rd front along with CPM and Congress. If that happened it could have been doomsday scenario for them.
The one issue that the BJP will have to deal with is rationalise how they would proceed on the corruption cases like Sarada and Narada scam post Mukul Roy joining the party.
He is the man who made things happen for Mamata Banerjee. Amit Shah and BJP would be hoping he does the same for BJP. They would like to believe he will be the catalyst that starts a reaction. A reaction which will make BJP capture the throne of Bengal and uproot Mamata Banerjee.
The party will put his organizational skills to test in the upcoming panchayat polls in which the BJP has set a target of reaching out to all the 77,000 polling booths in the state and though with limited time in his hands, Mukul will play a crucial role. He was instrumental in the previous ‘Poriborton’ saga. Will he lead to another ‘Poriborton’ that Bengal badly needs?