DAYS after the BJP tried to boost its electoral prospects in the poll-bound state of Uttar Pradesh by inducting former Union minister Jitin Prasada, the party suffered a jolt in West Bengal, where its national vice-president Mukul Roy chose to return to the Trinamool Congress (TMC). The BJP had done well in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal, encouraging leaders from the TMC to switch over in its bid to checkmate Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, but failed to repeat its performance in the 2021 Assembly elections. The party’s below-par show — it finished a distant second — also dented the prospects of the turncoats. Marginalisation within the state BJP unit, with Suvendu Adhikari, who defeated Mamata Banerjee from Nandigram, calling the shots as the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, probably influenced Roy’s decision.
Roy’s return is also an indication that the TMC is trying to quell dissatisfaction within its own rank and file over the growing clout of the West Bengal CM’s nephew, Abhishek Banerjee, by reaching out to Mamata’s detractors. Abhishek was not only present at Roy’s re-induction, but is also believed to have played a key role in facilitating his return. Roy’s case may well serve as an example for leaders of other parties. Jyotiraditya Scindia defected to the BJP in Madhya Pradesh and Sachin Pilot revolted in the Rajasthan unit of the Congress. With several states headed for elections next year, more switching of loyalties may well take place, not necessarily followed by the expected reward.
While the TMC appears to be trying to placate the detractors, the BJP needs to prevent its leaders from feeling sidelined. A stronger Mamata has added to disillusionment in the state BJP, but to dominate the Opposition space, the party will have to be more accommodating.
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