September 20, 2021 1:44:25 am
A day after joining the Trinamool Congress (TMC), former Union minister Babul Supriyo on Sunday said he joined the ruling party in West Bengal as he wanted to remain in the “playing 11” and thanked Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for the opportunity. He added that he wants to see Banerjee as a prime ministerial candidate in the 2024 general elections. The statements came even as his former party labelled him a “political tourist”.
Flanked by TMC MPs Derek O’Brien and Saugata Roy, Supriyo told reporters here, “I thank Mamata didi, Abhishek Banerjee and the TMC for giving me a chance in the playing 11. I never wanted to be on the reserve bench and always worked to be in the starting eleven. There is no point in playing in Mohun Bagan’s junior team, and instead, I would play in East Bengal. My main agenda is to serve the people of West Bengal.”
Supriyo told the media that he would love to see Mamata Banerjee’s name in the race for prime minister in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. “Nobody can rule out the fact that Mamata didi is a popular face and is the main face of the Opposition. The landslide victory in state Assembly polls have proven that the people of Bengal want Mamata didi as their leader and I feel the most popular face should be the prime minister candidate in 2024.”
The former minister also said that if given time by the Lok Sabha Speaker, he would resign from Parliament on Wednesday.
On Saturday, Supriyo joined the TMC in the presence of the party’s national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee. The surprising move came two months after the Asansol MP was dropped from the Union council of ministers. At the time, he had written an online post announcing that he was quitting politics.
Asked about the backlash he has received since he switched parties, Supriyo said, “Those who are making snide comments against me, let me say it is fair enough. All is fair in love and war. Whatever I had posted on social media in the past was made in love. And, I think there can be rivals but not enemies. I am thinking about today and tomorrow, not about anything in the past.”
Supriyo said he would not like to face the “embarrassment” of campaigning against the BJP’s Bhabanipur by-poll candidate Priyanka Tibrewal as she had helped him in legal matters.
Meanwhile, hours after his switch to the TMC, the Centre downgraded his security cover. This came even as his former party colleagues Dilip Ghosh — the state BJP president — and Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta laid into him on Sunday.
Ghosh claimed Supriyo was never a BJP leader. “Babul Supriyo has lost his popularity among party rank and file in his Asansol constituency. He has lost his popularity in the state. This is the reason why he lost the Assembly polls five months ago. He was a star, an MP, and a minister. He was never a BJP leader. I have said it earlier that he is not a seasoned politician. He takes emotional decisions in politics. One should not take emotional decisions in politics. He is a political tourist. They move around a lot. But it will have no impact on the party,” Ghosh added.
Dasgupta warned Supriyo that he might end up damaging his own image. “The anger of BJP supporters at @SuPriyoBabul‘s defection is very real, as is the disgust of ordinary people over people shifting sides. Learning to digest adversity & having patience are part of politics. Sadly, Babul was in a tearing hurry. He may end up damaging his own image,” he tweeted.
In response, Supriyo tweeted, “The anger is surely real but so was mine. But what abt this same Babul publicly protesting against inducting ‘outsiders’ into BJP? Did BJP do good to its image then? Plz ask the same supporters who were sidelined by these ‘outsiders’.”
The Asansol MP also downplayed criticism from the Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari. “I respected his decision when he left the TMC to join the BJP. Similarly, if I leave the BJP to be a part of the ruling party, he should respect my decision.”
With PTI inputs
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