Mukul Roy, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s former right-hand man and who is now a national vice-president of the BJP, will be contesting an election for the first time since 2001, as the party on Thursday named him as the candidate from Krishnanagar North Assembly seat in Nadia district.
Roy joined the BJP in November 2017 and since then the party’s leadership had quite heavily depended on him in engineering a defection drive in the Trinamool Congress (TMC).
Roy, nevertheless, was always known to be a leader reluctant to contest elections, one who is more comfortable in drawing strategies and handling election management. But he had told media persons that he would happy to take up any role the party will entrust him with.
The former railway minister was a two-term Rajya Sabha MP until resigning in 2017. He served as the railway minister during 2012-13.
The last time Roy had contested an election was in 2001, from Jagatdal Assembly constituency in his home district of North 24-Parganas. He lost to the Forward Bloc’s Haripada Biswas by a margin of 13,402 votes.
Since then, he mostly served as the TMC’s general secretary, looking after the core organisational affairs. He was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 2006 and re-elected in 2012.
Going by the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Krishnanagar North is a safe seat for the BJP. The party had a lead of 53,551 votes over the TMC in this Assembly segment.
“It seems he was given a safe seat so that he did not have to concern himself much with winning his own seat and could give enough time to the party’s Bengal campaign. The party wanted to field him to spread the message among the masses about the seriousness of the party’s intent in winning the elections,” said a senior leader of the state BJP who did not want to be named.
Roy’s son, Subhangshu, a sitting MLA, has been given nomination from his own seat, Bijpur, the area where Roy lives.
Apart from Roy, the BJP on Thursday named its Ranaghat MP Jagannath Sarkar, former TMC MLAs Sabyasachi Dutta, Biswajit Kundu, Saikat Panja, Jitendra Tiwari, Silbhadra Dutta and Arindam Bhattacharya, former India footballer Kalyan Choubey, actors Rudranil Ghosh, Tanushree Chakraborty, Parno Mitra, Bengal BJP veterans Rahul Sinha and Samik Bhattacharya and BJP state unit leaders Raju Banerjee and Agnimitra Paul as Assembly election candidates, among others.
Anirban Ganguly, an important member of the BJP’s think-tank who has been playing an instrumental role in framing the party’s Bengal strategy, has been fielded from Bolpur, the quaint university town known for Vishva Bharati, the university founded by Rabindranath Tagore.