Kolkata: The 2021 assembly polls results, bypolls and recent municipal elections results have shown that Trinamool Congress is having its best time electorally in West Bengal. And when the Ballygunge bypoll was announced, it was being presumed that like earlier elections that took place within a year, ruling TMC will be having a cakewalk.
But, as soon as party chief Mamata Banerjee tweeted about the candidature of Babul Supriyo from the Ballygunge constituency, where minority votes play an important role in deciding the winners, it seems, TMC and the Bollywood-singer-turned politician will first have to win over its minority supporters, if not cadres.
Babul Supriyo as TMC candidate
Ballygunge constituency is one of the most prominent assembly segments in Kolkata. It got vacated after Subrata Mukherjee, a four-time legislator, minister and former mayor’s sudden death in November 2021. The TMC stalwart was considered very close to chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
Here minority voters play a major role in deciding the fate of the candidates. And when the name of a former BJP leader was announced for the seat, it surprised many, including TMC supporters. As to why the party fielded a candidate, who was slapped with an anti-riot case by the TMC government itself, for having the alleged role of instigating riots in Asansol in 2018.
When the former Asansol MP was inducted into TMC, then also many people with secular credentials had expressed concern for taking such a leader who has not only uttered many communal slurs against minority people, abused Jadhavpur students but had also been named an accused in Asansol riots by the police.
And now after he was nominated the candidate, protests are being registered on social media and streets as well. A protest took place at Park Circus with the demand of No vote to Babul Supriyo on March 14. However, it had a handful of people present during the protest.
A protester Tabish said, “I have been voting TMC since 2011, but this time, I do not want to vote for a person who has an alleged role in riots. We request Mamata Banerjee to change the candidate.”
Babul Supriyo’s ideological shift
In his first statement after being declared a candidate from Ballygunge, Babul Supriyo claimed that he left Bharatiya Janata Party, as it practices politics of hatred. The statement has been widely reported by national media as it was completely different from what he had been giving while he was associated with the saffron camp.
He campaigned during Shab-e-Barat in the Ballygunge area and also wore a skull cap.
More such statements and campaigning are expected in the near future by the TMC candidate as the date for the poll will inch closer.
However, there is resentment on Bengali social media against Babul Supriyo’s candidature. But so far it is not strong enough, and whether it will translate into votes, only time will tell.