He was the governor of Tripura from 2015 to 2018 and of Meghalaya from August 2018 to the end of his term on August 19, 2020. He was a member of the BJP national executive, the party’s central policymaking body, from 2002 until 2015. He briefly had additional charge of the office of the governor of Arunachal Pradesh from July 2016 till August 2016, during which he handled the ouster of chief minister Kalikho Pul following a Supreme Court judgment, and swore in Pema Khandu as the new CM. Meet Tathagata Roy, who is back in his home state West Bengal ahead of next year's assembly polls, and he spoke to News18.com about his journey and his plans for the future.
You retired as the governor of Meghalaya on August 19, 2020, and came back to Kolkata to play an active role in the state BJP. It’s been almost two months. Why is the party delaying giving you a specific role in the state unit?
That is a question you need to ask the state BJP. I have placed myself at the disposal of the state BJP. I have discussed this with the state president and a central general secretary. My interest areas are primarily to propagate BJP’s ideology and dissemination of BJP’s message considering the upcoming elections in Bengal in 2021. I don’t want to use the word propagate as it can gather some unwelcome meaning. But it is basically that. So far as my politics is concerned, yes, it hovers around BJP. Now the party has to decide when it wants me to work for it in Bengal.
What are your future plans...if you don’t get any specific post or responsibility in the state BJP?
As you said, I will write, I will deliver speeches on webinars besides doing social work. Before I became the governor in 2015, I was considered as one of the best techno-legal consultants. I am very confident as a techno-legal consultant, which requires expertise both in law and engineering. I have a legal background and, if I get time, I will certainly get back to this (that will fetch some money), if politics does not work out.
You said there could be turncoats who are working as moles in the BJP. Do you have any specific information about the possibility of moles in the party? What exactly did you mean by your statement?
Yes, I have specific information about turncoats. Sorry, I can’t share more details with you. One who operates as a mole, doesn’t leave any proof. The moles have to be singled out of suspicion. He/she should be subject to interrogation and his/her modus operandi needs to be investigated. I have paced my views on this with the party leadership. What prompted me to make such a statement... is the nature... the way the party is working. There are certain aspects, which led me to suspect that there are moles in the state BJP. There are people who are working for TMC and listening to Prashant Kishor. I mean he (PK) has got a big role to secure a win for the TMC in Bengal. He charged crores of rupees and certainly will play all out. These moles are not good for the party as they can betray us anytime. I think the BJP should weed out such elements as soon as possible.
How did you get deeply influenced by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)?
Before I explain that, I would like to say that I can sever my connection with the BJP but the RSS has got into my DNA. The RSS is a unique movement, which seeks to correct a lot of wrongs in India’s social body. I was attracted to the RSS when I started attending shakhas and I found it morally, politically and socially correct. As I said, it has entered my DNA. Till I will live, I will be a part of the RSS and in fact I will give away some of my money to the RSS after my death. I was attracted towards the RSS when the Hazratbal Shrine incident in Jammu and Kashmir (on December 27, 1963) happened. Then people were killed and some students escaped and got admitted to our college. They narrated the ordeal they passed through. I was upset with the atrocities faced by the refugees.
Later, I joined the Indian Railways, but in 1990 I quit the job and joined the BJP because the plights of refugees refused to go away from my mind. In 1999, I had gone to Ranchi and stayed there for three weeks for the RSS’s ‘Sikhsha Varga’. It was arduous and the training was tough. I had to wake up at 4 in the morning. There were parades, lessons, exercises and that gave me a lot of insight into the RSS. The ‘Sikhsha Varga’ was supposed to be for three years, but before I could get any further chance, I was made the BJP Bengal president in 2002. I was the state BJP president till 2006 and at that time the BJP did not have any stake in Bengal.
Why are you against changing the name of West Bengal to just Bengal? What is your justification behind it?
Of course, I am against it. The justification is very simple...why do we need to change the name of West Bengal at all? Interested parties (hinting at Trinamool Congress and the communists) want to change the name because they don’t want us to remember that there was once an ‘East Bengal’. The process of partition of the state or the province was very painful and it was an incomplete process. This is something which is not known to many. The history was very carefully concealed. There are people who don’t want it to come out in the open. In fact, the communists tried to do this in the 1980s and they failed. Now Trinamool Congress is trying to change the name of West Bengal to Bengal just to get the support of the Muslims. Through this move, they will be able to garner Muslim/minority votes. Their 80 per cent of politics is based on Muslim votes, no matter what happens to the state. There are many issues in Bengal... like incidents of terrorism, ‘Khagragarh blast’ (On 2 October 2014 an explosion occurred in a house in the Khagragarh locality of Burdwan. Two suspected Indian Mujahideen terrorists were killed)..but for them (those who want to change the name of West Bengal) these things don’t matter. For them all matter is Muslim votes.
In erstwhile East Bengal, now Bangladesh, the percentage of Hindus came down from 29% in 1941 to 8% today; while in West Bengal the percentage of Muslims has increased from 20% in 1951 to 30% today. In other words, in Bengal the Hindus were persecuted in the East and moved to the West. Whereas the Muslims in West Bengal stayed put and multiplied. So it is necessary to retain the prefix in West Bengal to remind us that in Bengal partition is incomplete
Do you have any regrets in life? If yes, can you share it please?
My regret is, if I could go back 60 years, I would possibly have become a lawyer. If I would have been armed with the knowledge (which I have now), I would possibly be in the legal profession. I would have been in a big think tank in the world. At that time, studying law was not considered a good career option and everybody studied engineering. I also studied engineering. But I think becoming a lawyer might have been a better option for me.
The assembly election is just a few months away in West Bengal. Do you think the BJP is on track to secure the people’s confidence in the state?
When I landed at Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport from Shillong (after his term got over as Meghalaya governor), I was very confident about the BJP’s chances in Bengal. Now, I would rather not answer this question. It is up to you to speculate...but I am not going to explain this further.
Any surprising moments when you retired as the governor of Meghalaya?
Yes, there was one incident. On my last day as governor of Meghalaya, no state minister, chief minister Conrad Sangma, or Speaker of the house came to meet me as a goodwill gesture. They didn’t even wish me. Only one leader came and met me and no one else, as a courtesy. That was quite surprising. I received a call from Conrad Sangma after I had already reached Guwahati. I don’t know why it happened, but it happened. Interesting and surprising.