Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed her lieutenant Mukul Roy had temporarily distanced him from her due to ‘pressure’ and ‘harassment’ from the BJP.
For long considered the second-in-command of Banerjee’s Trinamool and credited as the architect of its electoral successes, Roy fell out with party following his grilling by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in January last year in connection with the Saradha ponzi scam.
“BJP disturbed Mukul, we did not. This is not right. He was harassed politically,” Banerjee told a television channel on Friday when quizzed about the reasons for the temporary snapping of ties between Roy and Trinamool.
However, Banerjee denied there were any major parting of ways.
“There was no parting of ways. Because of the way they mentally pressurized him, he distanced himself (from Trinamool). But there were no major differences,” she told 24 Ghanta.
After the CBI summoned him for questioning, Roy had gone against the Trinamool line that the CBI was targeting the party, and said in early 2015 that he would ‘fully cooperate’ with the probe agency.
Roy – a former railway minister – started skipping Trinamool meetings, Banerjee stripped him of all his posts, and relegated him to the Rajya Sabha back benches. There was much speculation of Roy either floating a new political outfit or join some other party particularly the Congress.
However, the mending of fences started after Roy and Banerjee exchanged pleasantries in parliament, during the chief minister’s visit to New Delhi in December 2015.
Subsequently he found his way into a Trinamool delegation that met Union Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla in Delhi, signalling his return to the Trinamool mainstream.
Over the past month, Roy has regained a substantial portion of his earlier clout and has been made all India vice president of the party.