Rajib Banerjee, a minister in the Mamta Banerjee government who had left Trinamool Congress and the Bengal Assembly in January, dramatically clutching a photograph of the chief minister close to his heart, is back in the Trinamool Congress today. The ghar wapsi is taking place at Agartala at the hands of national General secretary Abhishek Banerjee, who is holding a rally in the Tripura capital.
The choice of Agartala for Rajib Banerjee’s return to is a deliberate move to signal to the BJP that no BJP bastion is safe from Trinamool assault — neither Goa nor Tripura.
Mamata Banerjee is just back from a showstopper visit to Goa.
Kolkata is politically in a post puja lull.
Hotspot Tripura was, sources say, the most politically impactful venue for Rajib Banerjee’s return.
After BJP poster boy Suvendu Adhikari, Rajib Banerjee was the BJP’s biggest acquisition in Bengal ahead of the assembly elections.
A Trinamool MLA from Domjur, Rajib Banerjee was fielded by BJP in the same seat but lost.
According to sources, Rajib Banerjee realised his “mistake” soon after joining the BJP. He had been flown to New Delhi in a charter flight by BJP and handed the flag by home minister Amit Shah.
Five sitting BJP MLAs who had quit Trinamool have already returned to the mothership. A visit by Rajib Banerjee to the home of Kunal Ghosh some months ago was signal he was trying to return too. More recently, there were reports he met Abhishek Banerjee at his office and his return was imminent.
The choice of Agartala for his return may also have to do with the fact that Rajib Banerjee frequently accompanied Mukul Roy to the northeastern state in the past. Mr Roy was in charge of the Trinamool’s expansion in Tripura before he quit the party and joined the BJP in October 2017. Banerjee assisted Roy in Tripura and has some political network in the state.
The Trinamool Congress is taking on the Biplab Deb-led BJP government head on in Tripura ahead of the 2023 Assembly polls there.
Rajib Banerjee will be a useful in the battle for the northeastern state.