Kolkata: Prime Minister Narendra Modi called up state BJP leader Mukul Roy and enquired about the health of his wife who is in a critical condition and is undergoing treatment in a private hospital. The two-minute conversation between Modi and Roy has triggered political speculation because it came after TMC leader and MP Abhiskek Banerjee made a surprise visit to the hospital on Wednesday evening.
Sources in BJP said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi called up Roy at around 10.30 a.m. and enquired about the health of his wife. He also assured all possible assistance to the BJP national vice-president. Though Mukul Roy said that it was a courtesy call but it has triggered speculation among political circles in the state.
The call assumed significance because on Tuesday evening on his way back from the cyclone ravaged South 24 Parganas, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and Trinamool Congress (TMC) youth unit president Abhishek Banerjee made a surprise visit to the private hospital to check on the ailing wife of former party colleague Mukul Roy. It added to speculation about the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) vice-president’s next move.
In the hospital Abhishek Banerjee briefly met Roy’s son Subhranshu and inquired about his mother’s health. But the visit nevertheless created a buzz about the 67-year-old Roy’s next move.
Abhishek Banerjee, 33, spent about 10 minutes at the east Kolkata hospital where Mukul Roy’s wife Krishna Roy is being treated for Covid-19. Though the young Lok Sabha MP did not speak to the media, the visit of Abhishek Banerjee who was once considered to be a strong opponent of Roy when he was in the Trinamool Congress was enough to create speculation about the changing equation of Roy with the Trinamool Congress. The party, however, rubbished all such speculation and termed it a courtesy call.
As the rumours swirled, Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh too dropped by two hours later. Speaking to the media after his visit the state BJP President said, “He (Abhishek Banerjee) is previously known to him (Mukul Roy) and so it is not surprising that he has come to see his ailing wife. I don’t feel there is anything to speculate about.”
There was enough reason to speculate however. Subhranshu Roy who also defected from rhe Trinamool Congress and joined the BJP after the Lok Sabha election recently in a social media post wrote on Saturday that self-criticism is more necessary than criticising a government elected by the people, a remark that was widely seen to refer to the BJP’s sharp campaign against Mamata Banerjee after she won the state elections. Subhranshu Roy, who joined the BJP last year, had also contested the election from Bijpur in North 24 Parganas district but lost. Mukul Roy won the Krishnanagar North seat in Nadia district.
The Trinamool Congress’ changing equation with Roy was evident when Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during her election campaign made repeated references to Mukul Roy and Suvendu Adhikari — two of her trusted lieutenants who quit the TMC to join the BJP. “Poor Mukul has been fielded from Nadia district although he hails from North 24 Parganas. He is not as bad as Suvendu,” Banerjee said at one campaign rally. Mukul even skipped the first BJP legislative committee meeting in the assembly and went to his home district in Nadia.
Mukul Roy did try to end the speculation, telling reporters that he was a “dedicated worker” of the BJP.
Mukul Roy, a founder TMC member, was suspended for six years from the Trinamool Congress after his meeting with BJP leaders in September 2017. Roy quit the party and the Rajya Sabha the following month and joined the BJP in November 2017. Mukul Roy was the BJP’s lead election strategist for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in Bengal when the BJP won 18 of the state’s 42 seats. In September last year, Roy, who is an accused in the Narada sting operation being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation, was appointed national vice-president of the BJP.