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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 16 July 2024

Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee visits Ananta Maharaj's home, conjectures fly

Ahead of the 2021 Assembly polls, Union home minister Amit Shah met Roy, who heads a faction of the Greater Cooch Behar Peoples’ Association (GCPA) demanding a new Cooch Behar state, in Assam

Our Correspondent Cooch Behar Published 19.06.24, 10:46 AM
Mamata Banerjee with Nagen Roy aka Ananta Maharaj at his home in Borogila village of Cooch Behar on Tuesday.

Mamata Banerjee with Nagen Roy aka Ananta Maharaj at his home in Borogila village of Cooch Behar on Tuesday. Main Uddin Chisti

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday reached the residence of Nagen Roy aka Ananta Maharaj, the BJP MP in Rajya Sabha, at Borogila village in Cooch Behar.

Mamata didn’t speak to newspersons after the visit. Roy called it a “courtesy visit”.

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“The chief minister came to my home and gifted me a shawl. She was overwhelmed to see my house. We didn’t discuss politics or the recent elections. It was a courtesy visit,” said Roy, referring to the recent Lok Sabha polls in which Trinamool wrested Cooch Behar from the BJP.

However, political veterans said Roy changed camps many times.

Ahead of the 2021 Assembly polls, Union home minister Amit Shah met Roy, who heads a faction of the Greater Cooch Behar Peoples’ Association (GCPA) demanding a new Cooch Behar state, in Assam. But after the elections, Roy sided with Trinamool and invited Mamata to the birth anniversary of Chila Roy, a Rajbanshi icon.

The distance between Roy and Trinamool, however, increased. Last year, he was nominated by the BJP as an MP in the Rajya Sabha.

“Over the past few months, Roy distanced himself from the saffron camp. He expressed disappointment in his close circles with the BJP for not buying his demand for a Cooch Behar state,” claimed a Trinamool leader.

Ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, Roy stayed home, instead of joining the party's campaign. GCPA supporters of his faction stayed away from big-ticket BJP campaigns and didn’t instruct his followers who to vote for. "This is one of the reasons that the BJP lost here,” said a political observer.

In Cooch Behar, Rajbanshis comprise almost 40 per cent of the population and largely decide poll outcomes.

“The Assembly bypoll will be held in Sitai as its MLA became the MP. For TMC, it is vital to have Rajbanshi support. Mamata’s visit is significant,” the observer said.

On the BJP, Roy on Tuesday said: "The party has sent me to Rajya Sabha and I will complete my tenure. But till now, BJP leaders have never called me to the district party office. Instead, some have made humiliating remarks about me."

“I was never active in the BJP and I represented the GCPA,” he added.

Mamata, who reached Siliguri on Monday evening to meet the victims of the Kanchenjunga Express accident near Rangapani station, came to Cooch Behar the same night.

On Tuesday morning, she met TMC leaders, Jagadish Chandra Barma Basunia, the new Cooch Behar TMC MP, Udayan Guha, the NB development minister, and Avijit De Bhowmik, the party’s district head.

In Cooch Behar, the BJP holds six Assembly seats and TMC three.

“She told us to work together and set a target to win all nine Assembly seats of the district in 2026,” said a party leader.

Before visiting Roy, Mamata also offered puja at the Madanmohan Temple Complex. “I offered puja for the well-being of ‘Ma, Mati, Manush',” she said.

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