Babul Supriyo, the BJP’s Asansol MP who was dropped as Union Minister in the recent cabinet reshuffle, today said he is quitting politics. The Bollywood singer, however, made it clear that he was not moving to any other party, emphasising that he was a “one-team player”.
Announcing his decision to move on in a Facebook post this afternoon – mostly in Bengali, Mr Supriyo said, “I’m leaving… Alvida (farewell)”.
“….I am not going to any other party – #TMC, #Congress, #CPIM, nowhere…I am a one Team Player! Have always supported one team #MohunBagan…Have backed only BJP in West Bengal…That’s it…I am going…” he wrote.
“If you want to do social work, you can do it without being in politics…let’s organise myself a little first and then…”
Mr Supriyo said he was also quitting as MP.
The Trinamool Congress spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said the resignation was mere drama. “If he really meant it, he should have resigned and not just said he was going to do it. This is drama, like the movie Sholay.”
Firhad Hakim, Trinamool minister, felt Babul Supriyo was merely bargaining for a better deal within the party after being sidelined in the party and government.
In answer to his rhetorical question in the post, “Why am I leaving politics,” Mr Supriyo explained it was not a bid to “bargain” for a post. He urged Amit Shah and JP Nadda not to think that and thanked them for their encouragement to stay when he went to tell them he wanted to quit.
Babul Supriyo admits the loss of his position as Union Minister of State portfolio in a reshuffle earlier this month is “certainly, partially” responsible. When he was dropped, Mr Supriyo had controversially tweeted “I was asked to resign” – a tweet he later recanted.
Another reason he says was his realisation that things had changed for the BJP since 2014 when he was the sole party MP from Bengal. Now BJP is Bengal’s main opposition party, full of several Young Turks, he wrote, adding, it doesn’t need personalities anymore.
But the worst problem, Mr Supriyo tantalisingly hinted at, were his clashes with the state BJP leadership. “It is no secret there were huge differences of opinion with the leadership of the BJP in Bengal before the elections. Some of it became public because of me,” he said. But other leaders too were hugely responsible. “The infighting inside the top leadership of the party, that has hurt party workers,” he said.
BJP state chief and MP Dilip Ghosh played down the exit. “Who will do politics, when they will do politics, when they will stay or leave… I have nothing to say to that… That is their right… But has he resigned… You can make the news… but let us see what happens… He is in Lok Sabha, he is a fellow worker and an MP. Has he given a resignation letter? I don’t know anything about this.”
One of the key issues with the BJP leadership was the entry of the former Trinamool mayor of Asansol into the BJP just before the elections. Jitendra Tiwari and Babul Supriyo were always at daggers drawn and the Asansol MP had strongly opposed Mr Tiwari’s entry into BJP. But in vain.
Jitendra Tiwari was fielded by the BJP in the Pandaveswar Assembly. He lost. But then so did Babul Supriyo. The sitting BJP MP was fielded from the Tollygunge constituency in south Kolkata. He lost by around 50,000 votes.
In conclusion, Mr Supriyo likened his latest move to his shift in his career earlier: “I did the same in 1992 while leaving the job at Standard Chartered Bank and fleeing to Mumbai, today I did the same.”
After his Facebook post this afternoon, Mr Supriyo has been incommunicado. With the state BJP leadership insisting he was still very much a part of the party, the last word on Babul Supriyo’s “resignation” may not have been said. But now question the singer turned politician’s political career has suddenly hit a sour note and gone out of tune.