Actor and BJP leader Mithun Chakraborty, who has been touring various parts of West Bengal over the past week, has reiterated that he is in touch with 21 Trinamool Congress MLAs who are keen to defect.
When he visited the party office in Kolkata on September 24, ahead of the Durga Puja festivities, he said it was just a matter of time before the MLAs defected from the Trinamool. He had made a similar claim at a press conference in July.
“I have said this and I repeat this again and again. I do not say without any backup. Whatever I had said, I stand by it. Wait for some time and just pan your cameras,” he said on September 24.
When pointed out that a section of BJP leaders were not keen to induct leaders from other parties, he said: “We won’t accept rotten potatoes”. Mr. Chakraborty said only those who were not “liars and thieves” would be brought into the party.
Over the past three days, Mr. Chakraborty visited Balurghat and Chinsurah with State BJP president Sukanta Majumdar where he reiterated the claim.
The actor, who was the star campaigner of the BJP in the 2021 Assembly election, was seen at only one Durga Puja pandal at Kolkata’s Santosh Mitra square organised by BJP leader Sajal Ghosh. Before the 2021 Assembly election, a number of stars from the Bengali television and cinema had queued up at the West Bengal BJP office. However, after the defeat of the BJP in the election, almost all the actors left the BJP. Mr. Chakraborty is the only star and crowd-puller who stayed on.
However, despite Mr. Chakraborty’s presence, the BJP is no match for the Trinamool at reaching masses during the Durga Puja. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been inaugurating dozens of Durga Puja pandals daily over the past few days. Her decision to increase the cash incentive for pandals has also drawn huge applause. The State government is also upbeat about the UNESCO recognition of Durga Puja in Kolkata as an ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’.
Political observers feel that remarks on defection made by Mr. Chakraborty have no basis. Political commentator Subhamay Maitra said such frivolous remarks were not expected of someone of the stature of Mr. Chakraborty. Prof. Maitra, who teaches at the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, tried to link the remarks with the Durga Puja festivities and added that the BJP was trying to compete with the Trinamool in the festivities and was resorting to “allegations which have no basis”.