Trinamool Congress leadership is yet to take a call on ghar wapsi (return home) by former TMC leaders who had joined the BJP ahead of the recently concluded Assembly elections which the Mamata Banerjee-led party swept. Top TMC sources said Miss Banerjee, who is the party supremo, will take a final call on allowing those TMC men and women who had crossed over to the saffron party, reentry into party.

While analysts predicted that the party would allow a return very selectively to drive home the message to its cadre ahead of general elections in 2024, that rebellions would not be tolerated. “Er shirsho sidhanta,Netri nijei nite paren (only the Leader (Banerjee) can take a final decision on this issue),” said a senior TMC leader, on conditions of anonymity.

“We are now preoccupied with fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and organising cyclone Yaas relief,” he added. Several former TMC MLAs including Dipendu Biswas and Sonali Guha have in recent past sent letters regretting their decision to join the BJP and sought to return back to the party’s fold. Guha, who at one time was considered close to Banerjee, made an impassioned plea on camera seeking the chief minister’s forgiveness.

Guha, a four-time legislator from Satgachia in South 24 Parganas, has also written in a letter the way fish cannot stay out of water, I will not be able to live without you, Didi. Speculation is also rife on a possible home coming by one of TMC’s founder and currently BJP national vice-president Mukul Roy, who had crossed over to BJP and recently Miss Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek visited his wife at a city hospital and spoke to Roy’s son.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also taken the trouble of ringing up to enquire about Roy’s wife’s health. Roy on his part has tried to lay to rest rumours of his return to TMC, yet they persist as Miss Banerjee had termed his conduct as not so bad. The chief minister during her election campaign had branded other turncoat TMC members as Mir Jafars after the infamous Bengal general who betrayed Siraj-ud-Dulah in the battle of Plassey against Lord Robert Clive’s army.

TMC will selectively take back people who crossed over. The aim will be to organisationally weaken BJP but at the same time it will not want too many turncoats back as this would be seen as rewarding dissidence, said Rajat Roy, well-known political analyst and member of the Calcutta Research Group Analysts feel that TMC will follow a combination of Congress’s and the Left’s strategy on this.

While the Congress has in the past often taken back dissidents, the Left has usually had a policy of no-come backs for dissidents and turncoats. “Inducting those who had left the party at a crucial hour and joined the brigade of falsehood led by Modi and Shah is not slated to figure tomorrow’s organisational meeting,”

TMC leaders however said. They downplayed Abhishek’s visit to a private hospital to see Roy’s wife as a courtesy call. Another top TMC leader said on conditions of anonymity “these issues of induction are not generally discussed at any extended meeting of the party where a large number of participants are present.”

“Issues like whom to include and expel are decided by the core disciplinary committee consisting of Mamata Banerjee, Abhishek Banerjee, Subrata Bakshi, Partha Chatterjee. That is a shorter close-knit meeting which takes a call on each case,” he said. “However, so far as I know no decision has been taken on taking back those who left TMC before the polls, including any elected or defeated MLA. The party already has absolute majority in the House and does not face any threat in numbers,” he pointed out.

“Considering the popularity of Mamata Banerjee if anyone wants to join her now, it is entirely the wish of that leader to be associated with TMC, not ours. Our core committee will take the right decision at the right moment,” he said. The TMC leader claimed, “very few MLAs and MPs had crossed over to the BJP before the Assembly polls and the party largely remained intact” but the saffron eco-system “created a hype as if the TMC is disintegrating in the run-up to the polls.”

“As we had all along maintained, people are with us, the party largely remained united, our leader Mamata Banerjee worked for people tirelessly from front ignoring barbs and frontal attacks by the entire BJP leadership and we were proved right,” he observed. “Ours is not a regimented party like the CPI-M, we are a party with liberal democratic principles we will certainly consider what they (turncoats) had said or not said against us,” the TMC leader added.