Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday named Shatrughan Sinha as TMC’s candidate for bypoll to Asansol parliamentary seat, and Babul Supiyo as nominee for Ballygunge assembly byelection.
“Happy to announce on behalf of the All India Trinamool Congress that Sri Shatrughan Sinha, former Union Minister and famed actor, will be our candidate in Lok Sabha by-election from Asansol,” the TMC boss tweeted.
“Sri Babul Supriyo, former union minister and noted singer, will be our candidate in Vidhansabha by-election from Ballygunge. Jai Hind, Jai Bangla, Jai Ma- Mati- Manush!” she wrote.
The Asansol Lok Sabha seat fell vacant after Supriyo, a two-time BJP MP, quit the saffron party last year and joined the TMC.
The Ballygunge assembly seat fell vacant following the demise of state minister Subrata Mukherjee.
Supriyo, in response, thanked Banerjee for providing him with the opportunity to serve people.
“I want to thank Didi for allowing me to serve the people of the state. I am grateful to her and would work for the development of the state,” Supriyo told PTI.
The former BJP MP had joined the TMC last year, just months after he was dropped as a minister following a union ministry reshuffle. Sinha, however, could not be reached for comment.
Speculation was rife that the actor-turned-politician would be joining the TMC, as he had heaped praise on Banerjee after last year’s assembly polls.
‘Bihari babu’, as Sinha is often referred to, had said back then, “Politics is an art of possibility.”
A popular Bollywood hero of the yesteryears, Sinha had joined the BJP in the early 80s when it was a party of two MPs and served as its star campaigner during the Vajpayee-L K Advani era.
He was a union minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee ministry, when Banerjee was the railway minister. The two-term BJP MP from Patna Sahib later walked out of the BJP over differences with the present leadership. He joined the Congress and entered the poll fray from the same constituency in the 2019 polls but lost to former union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Sinha had joined Banerjee’s mega anti-BJP conclave at Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata before the 2019 parliamentary polls when he was still an MP of the saffron camp. Meanwhile, taking a dig at the TMC, state BJP president Sukanta Majumdar said, the party, which had propagated the ‘insider-outsider’ narrative, must now tell people which category did Sinha fall under.
“The TMC had fought assembly elections on the poll plank of Bengali pride and propagated the insider-outsider theory. The party must now answer if Shatrughan Sinha is an insider or an outsider,” Majumdar stated.
The TMC leadership, in a quick retort, said Sinha was a well-known actor with a pan-India appeal. “For us, outsiders were BJP leaders, who just came to Bengal to win elections and had no attachment with the people here. Shatrughan Sinha is a well-known actor with a huge fan following. He is loved and respected in Bengal,” TMC state general secretary Kunal Ghosh added.