Actor-turned-BJP leader Roopa Ganguly became a Rajya Sabha member on Tuesday after being nominated to the post by President Pranab Mukherjee.
The 49-year-old, who had unsuccessfully contested the last state Assembly elections from North Howrah constituency, has replaced Navjot Singh Sidhu, who had recently resigned as a member of the Upper House over alleged differences with the party.
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Speaking to The Indian Express, Ganguly, who became famous for her role as Draupadi in the mega-mythological serial Mahabharat, said, “I take it as more of a responsibility than a feather in my cap.”
“A few days ago, I was asked to submit my resume. Even then I had no idea. When media friends started calling me today I didn’t know what to say because there was no official confirmation. Till I got a mail from Delhi, I didn’t talk to the media as well,” she added.
Asked why she was given preference over other senior leaders, she said, “The discussion on this topic itself is meaningless. Whatever I am today in terms of politics is because of people like Kailash Vijayvargiya and Shiv Prakash. It is to the party’s credit that it has recognised people who work.”
Ganguly, who is also president of the state BJP Mahila Morcha, said that her programme for the next two months, which includes touring various districts, remained unchanged. However, she threw in a word of caution to the Trinamool Congress (TMC), saying, “Previously I used to talk at streetside meetings. Now I have been given a platform. Earlier, TMC cadres had attempted to kill me. Now they will think twice before hurling stones at me.”
In the past, Ganguly has faced a lot of flak from within her own party for “speaking her mind without permission”. Her visit to storm-hit Habra and Ashoknagar in North-24 Parganas on July 30, 2015, was criticised by then state BJP president Rahul Sinha, who had said that she should have consulted the party before doing so. Her comments against party MP Babul Supriyo’s ‘jhaal muri’ session with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hadn’t gone down too well with the party leadership either. Hence, her nomination elicited caustic reactions from party leaders.
“She had joined the party in January 2015 and has been made Rajya Sabha MP now without the knowledge of any state BJP leaders. That itself raises a lot of questions,” a senior state leader said on condition of anonymity.