Babul Supriyo joins Team Mamata
Kolkata: Former Union minister and two-time BJP MP Babul Supriyo joined Trinamool Congress on Saturday in Kolkata rendering a major blow to the saffron camp with one of its most prominent faces in Bengal quitting the party after serving the masses with "due diligence" for the past seven years.
In a surprising turn of events in Bengal politics in the past four months since Trinamool Congress returned to power with a landslide victory, the sitting MP from Asansol joined the state's ruling party on Saturday in the presence of TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee and Rajya Sabha MP Derek O'Brien. This comes a month after his announcement of quitting active politics and later changing his decision to continue only as a Member of Parliament when dropped from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Cabinet in which he was given only a Minister of State berth. It was on July 31 that he had announced on social media of staying away from active politics.
"It (joining TMC) is not a politics of revenge. It is a politics of opportunity that I have taken from the core of my heart to serve the people of Bengal in a better way," Supriyo said after formally joining Trinamool Congress.
Overwhelmed with love, affection and a "great opportunity" that has been extended to him by the party's leadership, Supriyo said: "It was with great disillusionment that I had announced that I will quit politics. I felt that my hard work of the past seven years was not given any value. A full stop was put before me and I found no logic behind it. A great opportunity has been extended by Mamata didi and Abhishek Banerjee and I am happy to accept it. If opportunity comes your way, you should decide, and I have decided to take the opportunity."
Supriyo, who was elected twice from Asansol in 2014 and 2019 parliamentary elections, decided to discontinue as an MP "on ethical ground" as the ticket was given by the BJP. "I will go by the rule book and by the book of ethics. I had become an MP with BJP's ticket. Now, I have joined Trinamool Congress. So there is no question of playing tug of war," Supriyo said.
However, speculation runs high that Supriyo may become the Rajya Sabha MP of Trinamool Congress after the resignation of Arpita Ghosh.
A visibly "happy" Supriyo narrated that his joining Team Mamata was finalised in the past four days. "The discussion began when I called my friend Derek in connection with an issue related to my daughter's admission in a school four days back. Then I got the message from Didi and Abhishek Banerjee of a great opportunity. I was told by many that my decision to quit politics was wrong and emotional. I am a workaholic. So I am proud that I am changing my decision and coming back to politics with a great opportunity to serve the people of Bengal," he said.
It needs mention that O'Brien flew to New Delhi in a 7.30 pm flight from Kolkata on Friday and returned to Kolkata with Supriyo, who had also contested as a BJP candidate in the 2021 Assembly polls from Tollygunge and was defeated by TMC's Aroop Biswas by nearly 50,000 votes, in an early morning flight on Saturday.
Sharing his reason for getting disillusioned, Supriyo said: "My performance (as a Union minister) was not poor. I worked hard. I studied and answered many questions in Parliament. I never felt as someone who was out of the world of politics."
Supriyo, who already had a talk with the party's chairperson Mamata Banerjee over phone, would meet her personally on Monday. He will also hold a Press conference on Sunday afternoon.
Supriyo is the first MP to join TMC after the Assembly election results when already four BJP MLAs have joined the state's ruling party.
BJP's spokesperson Shamik Bhattacharya criticised Supriyo for his move saying he has not only betrayed the saffron camp but also the people of Asansol who had elected him as a BJP candidate.
Trinamool Congress state general secretary Kunal Ghosh said that it does not suit BJP to criticise someone for joining any other political party as they must recollect their moves of "collecting leaders" from other political parties.