Three-time Trinamool MP Shatabdi Roy was appointed Vice President of the party’s Bengal unit Sunday, two days after she nearly joined a growing list of high-profile leaders to swap the ruling party for the opposition BJP with Assembly elections due in April-May.
Ms Roy said she “welcomed the decision” and that she would work hard to ensure the defeat of the BJP in the forthcoming election. “If you take up the matter concerning the party with the top leadership, it is addressed. This development proves that,” she was quoted by news agency PTI.
On Friday the Trinamool battled to persuade Ms Roy – who retained Birbhum in the 2019 election despite colleagues losing neighbouring seats to the BJP by huge margins – to remain in the party.
Ms Roy said she was “mentally anguished” at not being invited to party events in her constituency and was to fly to Delhi early Saturday amid speculation she would meet Home Minister Amit Shah.
Late Friday – after a meeting with fellow MP Abhishek Banerjee (who is Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew) she cancelled her Delhi trip, and said: “I am with the Trinamool. My problems with the party have been addressed by Abhishek Banerjee. All my abhimaan (pride) has been placated. I came to politics for Mamata Banerjee. I am with her.”
Faced with Ms Roy’s dramatic U-turn the BJP said the episode exposed the ruling Trinamool’s fragile condition and pointed out that “she has not said she will not go in future”.
The Trinamool, which faces an onslaught by the BJP and a stern fight to retain control, has lost dozens of leaders, seven legislators and an MP to the opposition in recent weeks.
Foremost among the losses is Suvendu Adhikari – once a close aide of Mamata Banerjee who joined the BJP last month, in the presence of Amit Shah, and promptly fired a warning shot.
Last month alarm bells rang after four faces were missing from a cabinet meeting called by Ms Banerjee. Three of those missing offered valid explanations but Rajib Banerjee, the fourth, remained incommunicado till late in the evening.
His earlier comments about the party were uncomfortably close to those made by Mr Adhikari before he quit, leading him to being called for talks by Trinamool Secretary-General Partho Chatterjee.
Poll strategist Prashant Kishore was reportedly also present at the meeting, after which Mr Banerjee appeared to strike a more conciliatory pose.
The Trinamool has shrugged off the exits as “good riddance to liabilities” but privately party leaders say that if any other high-profile figures were to leave, it may impact morale.
Polls to the 294-member Assembly are due in April-May, and the BJP has set itself a target of 200 seats. The party surprised the Trinamool in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, winning 18 of 42 seats.
With input from PTI