Former Trinamool Congress leader Mukul Roy on Friday joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) here, and said he believed that it is a "secular" force.
"I believe BJP is not a communal force, it is a secular force and it rules the country..." Roy said soon after formally joining the party.
"I believe in the leadership of Narendra Modi ji, Kailash Vijayvargiya ji and Amit (Shah) bhai, in the near future, BJP will come to power in West Bengal for the benefit of people of West Bengal," he said.
Roy recalled that the Trinamool fought Lok Sabha elections in 1998 for the first time as a partner of the BJP and again in 1999, was a member of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance after which Mamata Banerjee also became a minister in then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's cabinet.
"I feel without BJP, TMC could not have established (itself) then," he said.
BJP leader and Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad meanwhile said that Roy, one of Trinamool's founding members will help BJP expand its footprint in West Bengal.
"Today a veteran public figure and political leader, Mukul Roy has joined BJP. He helped TMC come to power in West Bengal, and has been an MP for 12 years," he said, adding that the "most notable feature" of his political life is that for 30 years of the Left government led by the CPI-M "where voice of dissent had no place", he fought against "atrocities".
Stressing Roy offered to join the BJP without any conditions, he said: "He is coming to BJP at a time when it is expanding its footprint in Bengal."
Roy quit the Banerjee-led party on September 25 and resigned as a Rajya Sabha member on October 11.