Lok Sabha polls: Pitted against Mahua Moitra, 'queen mother' prepares for rough ride ahead

A major controversy in which 'rajmata' Amrita Roy finds herself embroiled is an recording released by the BJP of a conversation she had with PM Modi

Mahua Moitra campaigns in Krishnanagar (photo: PTI)
Mahua Moitra campaigns in Krishnanagar (photo: PTI)

NH Political Bureau

In West Bengal's Krishnanagar, it is to be the queen mother vs the queen of controversy. In an apparent bid to checkmate chief minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee, the BJP has fielded rajmata (queen mother) Amrita Roy against former TMC MP Mahua Moitra, expelled from the Lok Sabha in December 2023 in the alleged cash-for-query case, who the TMC has re-nominated from the constituency in Nadia district.

Moitra won the Krishnanagar seat in 2019, and has been focusing on her election campaign there, choosing to skip a summons from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for questioning in a Foreign Exchange Management Act contravention case today.

Her opponent, however, has caused some controversy of her own thanks to her family lineage, which can be traced all the way back to Raja Krishnachandra Roy (1710-83), an influential zamindar (member of the landed aristocracy) who sided with the British under Robert Clive against Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah of the former ruling family of Bengal.

Roy officially joined the BJP on 20 March 2024, and according to media reports, her name was included in the BJP's fifth list of 111 candidates released on 24 March. A product of Kolkata's La Martiniere school and later Loreto College, she is very much part of the state's upper middle class echelons.

Her background is unlikely to have prepared her for the rough and tumble of electoral politics, of which she has already received a foretaste, with TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh alleging that king Krishnachandra helped British forces when the nawab of Bengal was fighting against impending British rule. "History says the royal family of Krishnanagar helped the British when Siraj-ud-Daulah fought them," Ghosh told India Today.

The other major controversy in which Roy finds herself embroiled is an recording released by the BJP of a conversation she had with PM Modi, in which she can be heard telling him that Krishnachandra actually "helped Hindus keep their religion intact" by helping the British subdue a tyrannical 'Muslim' ruler.

On the call, Modi can also be heard saying that he is working to ensure that nearly Rs 3,000 crore "looted" from poor people in West Bengal and attached by the ED is returned to them.

In a post on X, the TMC attacked the BJP saying, "The conversation between PM @narendramodi and BJP's MP candidate from Krishnanagar Amrita Roy, which was propagated on social media, severely violates the MCC as the former made unwarranted monetary promises while the latter invoked undue religious sentiments while mentioning the names of Jagat Seth and Raja Krishnachandra Roy to assume a superior standing in the elections."

The MCC or model code of conduct for the Lok Sabha elections came into effect on 16 March, when the seven-phase Lok Sabha polls were announced by the Election Commission of India (ECI).

While the TMC has officially complained to the ECI, Roy has dismissed the allegations as "false". The TMC has also dubbed the phone calls by the prime minister to BJP's women candidates such as Roy and Rekha Patra of Sandeshkhali as "well-scripted drama" ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Amrita Roy on the campaign trail (photo: PTI)
Amrita Roy on the campaign trail (photo: PTI)

"It is nothing but drama on the part of the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. We would also like to hear similar telephonic conversations with women in Manipur, and family members of the victims of Hathras in Uttar Pradesh," Ghosh told PTI.

On the ED summons to Moitra, TMC spokesperson Krishanu Mitra said, "This is nothing but vendetta politics against Mahua Moitra. The BJP doesn't have any issue to fight the TMC and is misusing central agencies ahead of the elections," .

Meanwhile, Roy told Anandabazar Online, "Everyone is aware of the contributions of King Krishnachandra to Nadia's history. The role of the Krishnanagar royal family in India's independence is still remembered by all... I have entered the electoral arena not just as a member of the royal family but to represent the common people. I hope to receive the blessings of the people wholeheartedly."

Hopeful words, but Moitra's familiarity with her constituency and the apparent popularity she enjoys there, along with the TMC's concerted campaign to portray the BJP as elitist "zamindars from Delhi" who need to be shown their place are likely to pose a stiff challenge to the newcomer.

With agency inputs

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