Past links with BJP greatest challenge for Babul Supriyo in Ballygunge bypoll

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The campaign for the Ballygunge Assembly constituency bypoll is almost on its last lap and the greatest challenge that singer-turned-politician Babul Supriyo is facing is his past — twice being the Lok Sabha MP from Asansol and also holding the Union minister’s post in the Narendra Modi government.

Immediately after the 2021 West Bengal Assembly polls, Supriyo shifted from the BJP to the Trinamool Congress and also resigned as the Asansol Lok Sabha MP. In return, the Trinamool gifted him with the candidature for Ballygunge Assembly bypoll, which has been necessitated by the sudden demise from erstwhile party legislator and state panchayat minister, Subrata Mukherjee in November last year.

During the campaign programmes for the Ballygunge bypolls, be it the BJP candidate, Keya Ghosh or the CPI(M) candidate, Saira Shah Halim, both are highlighting Supriyo’s shifting ideologies.

The BJP has adopted a unique strategy to highlight Supriyo’s past association with them. In almost all her campaign rallies, BJP candidate Keya Ghosh, a former journalist, the song “EI Trinamool Aar Noi (This Trinamool No More)” composed and sung by Supriyo before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls is being played repeatedly. This is an attempt to subtly remind the voters of Ballygunge of Supriyo’s intimate association with the BJP for ten years.

Speaking to IANS, Keya Ghosh said the song might be composed and sung by Supriyo, but it is the property of BJP now. “There are many instances of shifting political camps. But the manner in which Supriyo shifted to Trinamool Congress just because he was removed from the chair of Union minister is really not acceptable to the voters. But it is not true that I am campaigning only on this issue. I am harping on a number of local issues like waterlogging and shortage of drinking water in the slum areas of Ballygunge constituency,” she said.

The CPI-M, too, in the campaign meetings, are referring to several of Supriyo’s old statements and actions as erstwhile BJP Lok Sabha member and Union minister.

Supriyo, however, has his own arguments. According to him, his case is not the first of the instances where an individual changed his political camp. “But I had the basis honesty that I resigned as the Lok Sabha member of BJP soon after I joined Trinamool Congress. The opponents are highlighting my erstwhile anti- Trinamool comments or my support towards CAA and NRC. That was my political compulsion then since I was an MP of BJP. Let the opponents say whatever they have to say. But all I know is that I joined Trinamool to be a part of a massive development programme undertaken by the West Bengal government under the dynamic leadership of the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee,” said Supriyo.

To recall, Babul Supriyo recently became a latent target on the same issue of the legendary Bollywood actor Naseeruddin Shah, whose niece Saira Shah Halim is the CPI-M candidate this time from Ballygunge.

Naseeruddi Shah recently released a video message seeking public support for his niece, where without directly mentioning he referred to the event of Supriyo’s shifting from the BJP to Trinamool.

“I am not a member of any political party. I am seeking votes individually. Whether you will elect any person who shifts political ideology frequently or any person who stands by the people? So, in the Ballygunge bypolls I am seeking support for Saira Shah Halim,” Naseeruddin Shah said in the video message.

Hours after the video message of Shah became public, Supriyo retorted through a Twitter message where he said that probably Shah issued the message because of the pressure from CPI-M.

“We all love & respect #NaseerUddinShah. An absolute legend & now playing a doting Real-Life Uncle. Awww!. He has received both PadmaShree & PadmaBhushan but sadly he looks very gloomy in the video. Seems @CPIM_WESTBENGAL forced him to record this but the video is so adorable,” Supriyo tweeted.

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