‘Unlike the others, Babul Surpriyo is being rewarded within the party because of his close proximity to Abhishek Banerjee’.
New Delhi: Following the victory of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in the 2021 Vidhan Sabha elections in West Bengal, about a dozen prominent BJP leaders from Bengal had made a beeline to join the ruling party that came back to power for the third time in the state, but most of these BJP leaders who decided to jump ship towards power have found themselves alienated within the TMC, while some have been rewarded for shifting their loyalty towards Mamata Banerjee.
Some of the prominent BJP leaders who made the switch towards TMC from Bengal in the last one-and-a-half years include former BJP national vice president Mukul Roy, former Union Minister Babul Supriyo, BJP MP Arjun Singh, BJP’s MLA candidate Rajib Banerjee, Sabyasachi Dutta, and at least six MLAs who had won on a BJP ticket, but switched over to the TMC soon after the BJP lost the Assembly elections last year.
Among most of the leaders who switched to the TMC following the 2021 Assembly election results were turncoats from the TMC who joined the BJP ahead of the Assembly elections in the state with a hope that the BJP would be coming to power in Bengal and they would “continue” to enjoy power in state politics.
For example, Rajib Banerjee, Sabyasachi Dutta, Arjun Singh, Mukul Roy were all senior leaders of the Trinamool Congress who decided to switch their loyalty to BJP, but many among them have found themselves to be lost in the oblivion within the realm of politics in Bengal. Mukul Roy was considered one of the closest aides of Mamata Banerjee till at least 2016 after which they both fell out and Roy joined the BJP in 2017. Within the BJP, Roy grew up to become the national vice president of the BJP and one of the key strategists of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and the 2021 Assembly polls in Bengal. However, Roy switched back to the TMC last year after the BJP faced an electoral defeat in Bengal. But with this switch over, Roy lost the glamour and importance that he once held within the political affairs of Bengal.
Political observers from Bengal say that Roy has been totally alienated within the TMC since many “do not trust him” any more. Some of his party colleagues have even termed him to be “mentally ill” and have sidelined Roy within the party. Recent entrant into the TMC from BJP, Arjun Singh, also finds himself alienated within the party. Arjun Singh, who is known to be the “last word” for Barrackpore in Bengal, is hardly seen actively participating in any political affairs in the state, unlike when he was in the BJP. Sources close to Arjun Singh say that perhaps it was a mistake for Singh to have taken the decision to join the TMC once again. “He is not being given the due respect in the party and I am not surprised because both Abhishek Banerjee and Mamata Banerjee were not very keen to have him in the party, but had accepted him to weaken the BJP. He will never get back the place he had in the TMC earlier,” a close aide of Arjun Singh told this newspaper.
Other leaders like Rajib Banerjee, former TMC MLA who joined the BJP in 2020 and then left the party to join back TMC in 2021, was reluctantly accepted back to the TMC following the loss of the BJP last year. Banerjee, former Cabinet Minister in the Mamata Banerjee government and who once held a strong political position in Domjur, Howrah, has been shifted out of Bengal and stationed in Tripura. Others like Sabyasachi Dutta, a strongman of the Bidhannagar Assembly constituency and first Mayor of the Bidhannagar Municipality, was dropped from the Mayoral post earlier this year and rather he was handed over a much junior position in the municipality after he won the municipal elections on a TMC ticket last year.
It is pertinent to mention here that Abhishek Banerjee had earlier this year said in an interview that each leader who is coming back to the TMC from the BJP and had left the party during its difficult time will have to pass a “vanbas” and do a “Prasaychit” before they are brought back into the mainstream TMC.
However, Babul Surpriyo, unlike his other party colleagues who had jumped ship from BJP to the TMC, has seen a rise within his new party.
From being given a ticket to contest in the bypolls to winning it and then going on to become a cabinet minister of Bengal, Babul is witnessing a rise. The rise of Babul Supriyo is being credited by many within the TMC to the party’s second in command Abhishek Banerjee.
A TMC source told this correspondent, “Unlike the others, Babul Surpriyo is being rewarded within the party because of his close proximity to Abhishek Banerjee and, moreover, Babul is not someone who had left the party during its difficult times. Abhishek is a very sentimental person and he will never forget those who left the party during its nay days and, therefore, you see Babul being rewarded.”