Kolkata, June 11: The BJP’s first import from Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, Mukul Roy returned to his former party on Friday, ending weeks of speculation.

67-year-old Mukul Roy met TMC supremo and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at the TMC headquarters on Friday afternoon along with his son Subhrangshu.

“Ghorer chhele ghore phirlo (Mukul has returned home),” said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. He was never a traitor like the others, she stressed.

Roy added that “I feel great at seeing my old colleagues, after leaving the BJP. I can’t be in the BJP.” He described the Chief Minister as “the only leader of Bengal and India”.

To the uncomfortable question of his repeated attacks on “Didi” in the past, Roy replied: “I never had any differences with Mamata Banerjee.”

Roy drove to the Trinamool Bhawan an hour before the press conference and reportedly walked to his old room in the building that he left in 2017. Operation Return of the Prodigal, reportedly led by Mamata Banerjee, has only just started, said Trinamool Congress leaders, hinting that more leaders were on their way back to the mothership.

Mukul Roy, a founder member of the Trinamool, was its General Secretary when he quit; the post has now gone to the Chief Minister’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee, who first reached out to Roy and his family.

Abhishek Banerjee last week visited Roy at the hospital where his wife is admitted. The very next day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly spoke to Roy on the phone to ask about his wife’s health, reflecting the BJP’s nervousness.

The homecoming of its leaders, including those who switched just before the April-May Bengal election, is part of the Trinamool’s forward planning for 2024. Its goal is to prevent a repeat of 2019 when the BJP scored big gains at the Trinamool’s cost.

Mamata Banerjee signaled it even when she was campaigning for the state election when she said at a public rally: “Mukul Roy is not a bad as Suvendu Adhikari”.

For the BJP, he had been a big acquisition that had fanned its hopes for a political coup in Bengal. Roy and his supporters did deliver in 2019, but the dream soured by the time it came to the state election.

Roy was a founding member of All India Trinamool Congress in January 1998 as a breakaway faction of the Indian National Congress led by Mamata Banerjee. After that, he became the party’s face in New Delhi and was made general secretary in 2006.

In the 2001 West Bengal Legislative Assembly election, he was a TMC candidate from the Jagatdal constituency and came in second with 56,741 votes.

In April 2006, Roy was elected to Rajya Sabha and was a leader of the All India Trinamool Congress from 28 May 2009 to 20 March 2012 in Rajya Sabha. In UPA II was appointed Minister of State in the Ministry of shipping first. After Mamata Banerjee resigned, he became the Minister of State in the Ministry of Railways.

In July 2011, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh directed Mukul Roy to visit the site of the derailment of the Guwahati-Puri Express in Assam, he openly defied him. This brought a lot of displeasure among the political circles and he was shunted out of the Railways portfolio in the latest cabinet reshuffle on the very next day.

In 2012, he was the subject of a controversy regarding the Railway Budget. This happened after Mamata Banerjee expressed her discontent with the increase in fares, and demanded the resignation of Dinesh Trivedi, Railway Minister.

After Dinesh resigned, Mukul became the Railway Minister of India and he removed the fare hike introduced by the Former Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi, too much criticism. With the exit of Trinamool from the UPA coalition due to an allowance of 51% FDI in the retail and aviation sector, Mukul Roy’s tenure as railway minister came to an end in September 2012.

Roy ran a special train called “DU Gyan Uday Express” a Bengali worded statement, which took 1000 students of Delhi University to places like Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Goa, and Bangalore during the summer break of 2012.

An application has been submitted to the Election Commission for the formation of the new political party called All India Trinamool Congress and Mukul’s close aide Amitabha Majumdar has been named as the President. The head party office is located at Dinhata, in North Bengal.

Roy and Mamata had a fall out in 2015 when his name came up in the Saradha chit fund scam as well as in the Narada sting operation in which TMC leaders are involved.

Roy was suspended from the TMC for six years after he met senior BJP leaders like Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya. He has resigned from Trinamool Congress on 25 September 2017. After that Roy also resigned from Rajya Sabha membership on 11 October 2017.

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Roy officially joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on 3 November 2017. Upon joining the party, he said that he felt proud of working under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Roy successfully contested the 2021 West Bengal Legislative Assembly election from the Krishnanagar Uttar constituency defeating his closest rival Koushani Mukherjee from the All India Trinamool Congress. Roy further joins TMC on 11 June 2021.