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Mukul Roy joins BJP, says will work to 'restore democracy in Bengal'

Mukul Roy joins BJP, says will work to 'restore democracy in Bengal'

Former Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader and one of its founding members Mukul Roy, who had once served as the railway minister, on Friday joined the BJP, lending a thrust to the party's drive to expand its base in Mamata Banerjee-ruled West Bengal. He said that it will be his "proud privilege" to work under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. Roy had met several BJP heavyweights including Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and its National General Secretary and West Bengal in charge Kailash Vijayvargiya in the past few days.

Asked about corruption allegations against him, Roy said the law will take its own course.

Welcoming him in the BJP, Ravi Shankar Prasad said Mukul Roy's induction will strengthen the party in the state. "BJP is not a communal force".

A month after quitting the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC), Mukul Roy has been formally inducted into the BJP. West Bengal is among the states where the BJP is eyeing around 150 seats. "If people can cast their votes in panchayat polls, the BJP will wrest power from the TMC in least in 5 zila parishads", he said. Congress leader Omprakash Mishra, "Mukul Roy will act as a saviour of corrupt TMC leaders and ministers in the BJP".

The CPI (M), however, viewed the development as a tacit understanding between the TMC and the BJP. "He helped TMC come to power in West Bengal, and has been an MP for 12 years", he said, adding that the "most notable feature" of his political life is that for 30 years of the Left government led by the CPI-M "where voice of dissent had no place", he fought against "atrocities".

Biswanath Chakraborty, a professor of political science at Kolkata's Rabindra Bharati University, had early said Roy's defection would be a bigger gain for the BJP than a loss for the Trinamool Congress, coming ahead of the 2018 panchayat election.

He also stated that if TMC did not have an alliance with the BJP led NDA during its formative years, it would not have gained such popularity.

Roy told journalists on Friday that "restoring democracy" in West Bengal would be his priority.