Former Union Minister Babul Supriyo, who moved from the BJP to the Trinamool Congress in the past few days, today reiterated that he wants to be part of a team that embraces him warmly and makes him part of the playing 11.
Once again deploying sports metaphors, the Bollywood singer-turned-politician’s move has reportedly created a buzz on West Bengal political circles — days after his move, West Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh was replaced with Sukanta Majumdar. This has been perceived as a move to stem any haemorrhaging in the state party unit.
Mr Supriyo, however, refused to be drawn into the matter.
“Now that I am with the Trinamool, I consider this the BJP’s internal matter. Speaking as a political analyst or a commoner, I can say that Dilip Ghosh has done good work for Bengal. But his language, his commentary…that has not been taken well by the people of Bengal,” the Asansol MP said during an exclusive interview with NDTV.
“I have not created history…I’m not the first to leave a party and join another one.”
Referring to the new West Bengal BJP chief’s reported comment that the state was facing “Talibanisation”, Mr Supriyo said the term ought not to be used lightly. He said he had opposed it, too, when the opposition and critics like lyricist Javed Akhtar had said similar things about the BJP.
“Taliban is the name of a very wrong and cheap mindset. The term should not be used casually,” he said.
Thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief JP Nadda, and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the Trinamool Congress member said he has worked with them for seven years and learnt a lot from the BJP.
He emphasised that his own 2014 electoral victory from Asansol may have been based on his image as a Bollywood singer, but it was his public worked that ensured his 2019 re-election.
“Whenever I play for whichever team, I’d want to give my sweat and blood in the playing field itself. It is not in my DNA to take the salary and perks from the public and then warm the benches,” Mr Supriyo said.
“I will play for that team which puts me in the playing level and, to use a football terminology, in the various formations in the field.”
Mr Supriyo was seen to be upset after he was made to quit as Union Minister ahead of cabinet reshuffle in July.
Will he not be now accused of shifting the goalpost?
“I was the lone person opposing when the BJP had opened its doors completely in Bengal and people from all parties were shifting to it,” he pointed out.
“If the BJP feels it was wrong on my part to join the Trinamool, if it feels it was Mir Jafar-esque, it should garland all those who joined it and send them back to their older parties.”
He rubbished the allegation that he had joined the Trinamool to stay in power.
“If that is so, what power have I got in Trinamool? I have already sought an appointment with the Honourable (Lok Sabha) Speaker. I want to stay on this moral ground. I am immediately resigning as MP of Asansol,” he said.
“I have left the CRPF and all those perks that I was getting as a minister or as a central leader…He quoted Shashi Tharoor saying, ‘an MoS (minister of state) is like a person standing in a graveyard. There are thousands of people below him, but no one is listening’.”
Returning to sports metaphors and citing the example of footballer Lionel Messi, he said: “Did he want to leave Barcelona? The situation was such that he cried during the press conference. Then he went to PSG. And now you are saying that ‘while playing for PSG, is he expected to core against Barcelona? Or is he going to stand still in front of the goal post because he needs to be loyal to his ex-team…which transformed him’.”
He ended the interview on a musical note. Talking about his meeting with Mamata, during which she reportedly asked him to work and sing with all his heart, he refused to divulge the details. He, however, broke into an old and popular Bollywood number:
“Yeh duniya wale poochhenge,
Mulakat hui, kya baat hui,
yeh baat kisi se na kehna.”
This roughly translates as “People will ask, ‘You met up. What did you talk about?’ But don’t reveal this to anyone.”