Supriyo may be sent to the Rajya Sabha by TMC in place of Arpita Ghosh.

 

New Delhi: In what has come as a rude jolt to the BJP, Babul Supriyo, former Union minister and the sitting MP from Asansol, West Bengal, joined the TMC on Saturday evening. He is likely to be sent to the Rajya Sabha by his new party in place of Arpita Ghosh whose resignation was taken by the TMC leadership earlier this week.

Talks between Supriyo—who was among the party’s first MP from West Bengal when he won in 2014 Lok Sabha elections—and TMC de facto chief Abhishek Banerjee were done in such secrecy that none of the BJP leaders, in the state and the Centre, were aware of Supriyo moving to TMC until the actual event happened in Kolkata where he was given the party membership by Banerjee and Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’ Brien.

The fact that the state BJP leaders did not even have an inkling of what Supriyo was planning to do can be gauged from the fact that he was one of the 20 leaders whose name was declared in the party’s star campaigner list for the Bhabanipur Assembly bypolls on 10 September.

Saturday’s developments, party leaders said, was a symptom of the bigger issue of the disconnect between the workers and leaders that the BJP is facing in West Bengal. His joining comes within 50 days of him resigning from the party on 31 July, ostensibly after he was dropped as a minister during the 7 July cabinet reshuffle. According to Bengal-based BJP leaders, Supiryo’s movement to TMC was going to demoralize the cadre as he was among the few top leaders who were active on the ground since 2014. “This is not a good sign. It is an indictment of the way the top state leaders are running things here. They have still not learnt their lessons from the disastrous results of May (Assembly elections). The party national leadership and J.P. Nadda have been caught unawares of such a big development. What were the state leaders doing? Where is Kailash Vijayvargiya (state in-charge)? Why has he been missing from the state since June? Why were our state leaders like Dilip Ghosh not aware that such a big development was going to take place? This only shows that our top leaders are more focused on sitting inside AC rooms and securing the future of their children. No one is concerned about the future of the party in this state,” a party district president told The Sunday Guardian when reached for his comment on the developments.

According to party sources, Vijayvargiya has not visited the state since May after getting inputs that he will be heckled by the party cadre if he enters Kolkata as they have been upset with him for the way he handled ticket distribution in the state. One of the primary reasons behind Supiryo deciding to break his decade-long relationship with the BJP—for which he was among the first leaders in Bengal who carried the party’s flag in a state at a time when it was unable to find even ordinary workers—was his spat with long time party president Dilip Ghosh. Sometime in July, when Supriyo had complained about him being sidelined by the state leadership to Ghosh, he was reportedly told by Ghosh to “go and complain to whoever his political godfather is sitting in Delhi”. Later, Supriyo met Nadda, but as things have turned out, it is clear that Nadda, too, was unable to instill confidence in Supriyo that the party was sympathetic to his interests. During the May 2021 elections, he was asked by the party to contest from Tollygunge in Kolkata, a region far away from his stronghold of Asansol. He lost. The other person who lost the elections was former TMC heavyweight Jitendra Tiwari whose inclusion into the party was strongly opposed by Supriyo, albeit unsuccessfully, as Tiwari had allegedly assaulted many BJP workers in the past. “Supriyo’s departure is a result of the high command culture that has penetrated into the party. In coming days, such things will become more common,” remarked a senior Rajya Sabha BJP MP.