In one of the biggest defections in West Bengal after the 2021 Assembly polls, former Union Minister and two-time BJP MP from Asansol Babul Supriyo on Saturday joined the Trinamool Congress. Mr. Supriyo visited the office of Trinamool general secretary Abhishek Banerjee here and joined the ruling party.
On July 31, Mr. Supriyo announced on social media that he will resign as MP and stay away from active politics. He later said he will continue to be MP .
After joining the TMC, Mr. Supriyo told journalists that a “great opportunity” has been extended to him by the party leadership and he has decided to take it up.
“It was with great disillusionment that I had announced that I will quit politics. A great opportunity has been extended by Didi [Mamata Banerjee] and Abhishek Banerjee and I am happy to accept that,” he said. Speculation is rife in political circles that Mr. Supriyo may be nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the Trinamool as replacement for Arpita Ghosh who had quit the Upper House on Wednesday.
Mr. Supriyo lost the 2021 Assembly poll from Tollygunj on the BJP ticket. He had to resign as Union Minister of State during the Cabinet reshuffle in July. Since then, he had been expressing discontent towards the party leadership saying he was not given enough responsibility. “I was expecting something more after seven years as a Union Minister of State. Then differences started growing with the party.”
Mr. Supriyo was elected to the Lok Sabha from Asansol in 2014 and 2019. The defection comes weeks before the crucial Bhabanipur bypoll where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is contesting. Interestingly, the BJP had nominated Mr. Supriyo among the star campaigners for the seat.
“Mamata Banerjee needs no campaign but if the party considers me, I will be happy to campaign in Bhabanipur,” Mr. Supriyo said.
The BJP earlier received a blow when Mukul Roy quit the party and joined the TMC. At least four MLAs of the party have joined the TMC in the past four months.
“Babul Supriyo has cheated the people of Asansol and also proved that his entire aim was to remain a Minister and enjoy power,” State BJP spokesperson Shamik Bhattacharya said. A section of party leaders like MP Jagannath Sarkar said the BJP should give tickets only to those who are committed to its ideology and not outsiders.
The TMC leadership said the BJP, which organised mass defections from the party before the Assembly polls and sent a charter plane to ferry them to Delhi, cannot criticise these defections.