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The Homecoming Dance: A Look at All the Bengal Turncoats Who 'Can't Live Without Didi'

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee along with TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee (R) and others during a rally on 'Nandigram Diwas', in Kolkata. (PTI)

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee along with TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee (R) and others during a rally on 'Nandigram Diwas', in Kolkata. (PTI)

Several former TMC MLAs, including Dipendu Biswas and Sonali Guha, have in recent past have sought to return back to the party's fold.

On Saturday, a Facebook post by Subhrangshu Roy, the son of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national vice-president Mukul Roy, expressing gratitude for Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for reaching out to his family in the “hour of need" had the rumour mills buzzing with the possibility of a political realignment in the state.

And it’s not just the junior Roy, several other former Trinamool Congress (TMC) MLAs, including Dipendu Biswas and Sonali Guha, have in recent past expressed ‘regret’ over their decision to join the BJP and directly or indirectly sent feelers to the Trinamool Congress expressing their desire to return to the party’s fold.

“West Bengal does not accept divisive politics. I have understood that…Anything is possible in politics," Roy said on Saturday. His mother, Krishna Roy, is on life support at a private hospital in Kolkata. His father, Mukul Roy, too had contracted Covid-19 and was now recovering. His statement along with TMC supremo’s nephew and MP Abhishek Banerjee’s visit to the hospital has raised eyebrows both in the BJP and in the TMC fuelling talks of senior Roy’s homecoming.

Amid his signalling, all eyes would be on his father Mukul Roy’s next move as well. Mukul, who quit the TMC in 2017, has so far not spoken on the issue, though there have been intense speculations over his next move.

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One of the founder-members of the TMC, Mukul was made BJP’s national vice-president in 2020. In the recently concluded West Bengal elections, he won the Krishnanagar Uttar seat.

Considered Mamata’s lieutenant at one time, Mukul had reportedly left the TMC over alleged disagreements with the party’s top leadership on issues, including differences with Abhishek. Roy had resigned from the party working committee in September 2017. Soon after, he was suspended from the Trinamool for six years for indulging in “anti-party” activities.

Mukul is known to be an organisational brain, though it is to be seen whether and how he will be accommodated. On his part, Mukul Roy, who had been instrumental in a lot of TMC and CPM leaders joining the BJP, has tried to lay to rest rumours of his return to TMC, yet they persist as Mamata had termed his conduct ‘not so bad’.

The TMC leaders, however, have downplayed Abhisek Banerjee’s visit to a private hospital to see the BJP national vice-president Mukul Roy’s wife as a courtesy call. “Inducting those who had left the party at a crucial hour and joined the brigade of falsehood led by Modi and Shah is not slated to figure tomorrow’s organisational meeting," they said.

Like them, there are other turncoats that are now doing a rethink a month after the TMC desecrated the BJP in the hotly-contested state assembly polls.

Dipendu Biswas

Dipendu Biswas, who jumped ship to the saffron party as he was denied a ticket for the West Bengal polls, is a lawmaker from the North 24 Parganas Basirhat Dakshin constituency. In his letter to Banerjee, Biswas said he took a “bad decision” by leaving the party and wants to return. He added that his decision to quit was “emotional” and he feared being “inactive”. He also expressed his desire to work for the Basirhat South constituency.

Sonali Guha

Sonali Guha, who had switched over to the BJP ahead of the elections, wrote to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, apologising to her for leaving the party and urging her to take her back. In the letter, which was shared by Guha on social media, she said that she left the party after being emotional.

“I am writing this with a broken heart that I took the wrong decision of joining another party after being emotional. I could not get accustomed there," she had said.

“The way a fish cannot stay out of the water, I will not be able to live without you, ‘Didi’. I seek your forgiveness and if you don’t forgive me, I won’t be able to live. Please allow me to come back, and spend the rest of my life in your affection," she added. Guha, a four-time MLA and once considered to be the ‘shadow’ of the chief minister, was among the slew of TMC leaders who switched over to the BJP ahead of the assembly elections.

Sarala Murmu

Sarala Murmu, who had switched camp as she was reportedly unhappy with the ticket that was given to her by the ruling party, has expressed her desire to return to the TMC, a day after Banerjee’s former aide, Sonali Guha, made a similar appeal.

Claiming that it was a mistake on her part to have joined the BJP, Murmu said that she wants party supremo Mamata Banerjee to pardon her. “If she accepts me, I will stay with her and work for the party diligently," Murmu told reporters at her Malda home. “I committed a mistake and want Didi (Banerjee) to pardon me for that," she said.

Murmu was nominated from Habibpur seat in Malda, but party sources had then claimed that she was keen on contesting the election from Maldaha constituency.

Amol Acharya

North Dinajpur MLA Amol Acharya said that he is leaving BJP because of recent harassment of TMC leaders by CBI. Acharya, who joined BJP, but was not given a ticket, had said, “I have always considered Mamata Banerjee my leader. But I never thought I would be denied a nomination. I was upset and joined BJP. It was a mistake. Now, the BJP’s vindictive politics against leaders like Subrata Mukherjee, Firhad Hakim and others is exposed. I’ve written a letter of apology to the CM. I hope they will forgive me."

‘Mamata Banerjee Will Take Final Call on Ghar Wapsi’

Meanwhile, the Trinamool Congress leadership is yet to take a call on Ghar Wapsi (return home) by former TMC leaders who had joined the BJP ahead of the recently concluded assembly elections which the Mamata Banerjee-led party swept. Top TMC sources said Banerjee, who is the party supremo, will take a final call on allowing those TMC men and women who had crossed over to the saffron party, who wish to rejoin re-entry into the party.

Political analysts, however, predicted that the party would allow return of former TMC leaders who went over to BJP very selectively, to drive home the message to its cadre ahead of general elections in 2024, that rebellions would not be tolerated. “Er shirsho sidhanta, Netri nijei nite paren (only the Leader (Banerjee) can take a final decision on this issue)," said a senior TMC leader, on conditions of anonymity. “We are now preoccupied with fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and organising Cyclone Yaas relief," a TMC leader said.

The chief minister during her election campaign had branded other turncoat TMC members as Mir Jafars after the infamous Bengal general who betrayed Siraj ud Dowlah in the battle of Plassey against Lord Robert Clive’s army.

The Trinamool Congress romped home in Bengal, pocketing 213 of the 292 assembly seats that went to polls and secured a third straight term in office. The Mamata Banerjee-led party’s main challenger, the BJP, bagged 77 seats, against a claim that they would win more than 200 seats.

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