Et tu Babul Supriyo: The Bell tolls for BJP in West Bengal

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By: Dr. Ratan Bhattacharjee

‘Et tu Brutus !’ asked the surprised Julius Caesar when  he saw his bosom friend Brutus ready to assassinate him. A similar surprise is now in the eyes of the BJP top guns  when Babul Supriyo took the Trinamool flag in his hand and gave a close hug to Abhishek Banerjee.

Finally former Union Minister and two –time BJP MP from Asansol, Babul Supriyo joined Trinamool Congress. Time will tell if it is a big setback for BJP , but this is one of the biggest defections in West Bengal after the 2921 Assembly polls. In politics nowadays defection becomes almost a regular thing as it is in sports. Babul said he will play whatever party wants him to play and he is never meant for Reserved Bench. The Anti-Defection Bill received the President’s approval  on February 15 in 1985 and the act came into effect on March 18 that very year. The law laid out the process for disqualifying an elected member for the remaining term who defected either by resigning or by defying  the party  leadership  and being absent on a crucial vote or by joining other parties. It is unfortunate but not uncommon that frequent floor-crossing turn coatingswitching parties and political horse trading occur and this defection by the elected politicians is termed as Aaya Ram Gaya Ram politics. The term ‘Aaya Ram Gaya Ram’ originated in 1967 in Haryana where excessive political horse trading, counter horse trading and counter-counter horse trading took place; triggering several rounds of frequent political defections by the serial-turncoat politicians within a span of few weeks; resulting in the dissolution of the Haryana Legislative Assembly and consequently the fresh elections were held in 1968. It became the subject of numerous jokes and cartoons. After 1967, several parties in India often continued to be involved in this type of political horse-trading to grab the power. To end this trend, the anti-defection law was made in 1985. The trend still continues to surface every now and then. The term was coined when Gaya Lal a Member  of the Legislative Assembly  from Hodal in Haryana won elections as an Independent candidate in 1967 and joined Indian National Congress and thereafter he changed parties thrice in a fortnight to the United Front first and then again counter-defecting to Congress again only to join United Front in just nine hours. Today Indian political arena is filled with these Aaya Ram and Gaya Rams. 

In West Bengal, four BJP MLAs defected to Trinamool Congress in the last four months. The BJP leaders are insisting on the fact that the defection of the MLAs from their party will not weaken their party as they came from Trinamool and went back to Trinamool. About Babul Supriyo they concluded that he was not a mass leader as Subhendhu Adhikari claimed it. But it cannot be denied that he was the blue eyed boy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On July 31, Supriyo announced on social media that he would resign as MP and stay away from active politics. After his meeting with BJP high officials he  later said he would continue to be MP. After joining the TMC, Supriyo told journalists that a “great opportunity” had been extended to him by the party leadership and he  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 Supriyo may be nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the Trinamool as replacement for Arpita Ghosh who had quit the Upper House. 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.”A few days earlier he sent message of blessings for Priyanka Tibrewal the rival candidate of Mamata Banerjee in the Bhowanipur Bye Election. But in a week , he had this U-turn in politics and said “Mamata Banerjee needs no campaign but if the party considers me, I will be happy to campaign in Bhabanipur,” Supriyo said. The BJP earlier received a blow when Mukul Roy quit the party and joined the TMC. “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.

Babul Supriyo is a star leader and he has a wide popularity all over India as a singer. The Trinamool Supremo is now bent on finding out faces that are known to people all over India. In recent times she has inducted in her all India team Sushmita Dev and  allotted a big role in Tripura nay the whole of North East including Assam. Recently Arpita Ghosh was asked to quit from the Rajya Sabha seat  and the joining of Babul Supriyo was finalized after that. Political analyist could not ignore the coincidence  and Babul himself said that all had been decided in the last four days. The Bhowanipur Bye Election where the victory of Mamata Banerjee as the daughter of Bhowanipur is almost certain is regarded by all as a fight not merely against one candidate of BJP but as a beginning of a bigger fight the fight of Trinamool against BJP on a national level for which even Congress did not field candidate against Trinamool as  a gesture for Opposition unity in the 2024 Lok Sabha election. This high voltage election constituency is gaining attention of the political analyist abroad and in this context the joining of Babul Supriyo is gaining momentum. Not only the leaders but even the  people in the grassroot level are getting disillusioned about BJP policies regarding petrol price hike, farmer movement , privatization of LIC and Bank Railway etc. Mamata Banerjee is the universally accepted face in the fight against Narendra Modi and interestingly enough their names have been considered in the Times list of  100 most influential persons in the world. Even in Jago Bangal the Trinamool Party newspaper it is focused that Rahul Gandhi failed to come up as the proposed Opposition leader and Mamata is more accepted after her terrific fight against BJP in the last 2021 Assembly election where even the Prime Minister and Home Minister of the country campaigned regularly and became a daily passenger. The 2021 Assembly election was a nightmare for BJP on the national level and it may be called ‘the beginning of the end of BJP aspiration for 2024 Lok Sabha Election.’ In this context the defection from BJP is a serious indication. The stagnant economy and unemployment problem after the pandemic lockdown added insults to injury since the demonetization which failed either to unearth black money or nab the terrorists. The Hindutva policy of BJP  replacing the Hinduism in India  affects the Indian cultural heritage and in the 2024 election this communal divide sponsored by  the BJP will yield no dividend. On the contrary it will eat into the vital of BJP and the damage will be irreparable. (The author is a senior academician and Trilingual columnist cum poet and may be reached at [email protected])

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