Calling himself a “cobra that can kill with one bite”, popular actor and former TMC Rajya Sabha MP Mithun Chakraborty joined the BJP on March 7, ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally at Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata. Referring to his TMC stint as a “bad decision”, he said he has joined the BJP to “serve the poor.”
“Earlier my slogan used to be ‘marbo ekhane, lash porbe shoshane (I will beat you here, your body will land in a crematorium)’. This slogan has become old now. I have prepared a new slogan for the campaign in this election. It is ‘aami joldhora noi, belebora noi, aami jaat gokhro, ek chobolei chobi (I am not an ordinary snake. I am the Indian cobra. One bite can kill you),” the actor said at the rally. West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh inducted Charaborty into the party by handing him a party flag.
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While addressing the gathering at Brigade Parade Ground, Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to Chakraborty as “Banglar Chele” (Bengal’s Son) – an apparent counter the TMC’s ‘Bangla Nijer Meye ke Chai (Bengal wants its own daughter)’ slogan which refers to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as Bengal’s daughter.
The BJP has been trying to rope in a popular Bengali face to counter Banerjee for some time now. Reports about the party’s attempts to get former Indian cricket team captain and BCCI president Sourav Ganguly on board have been doing the rounds for a while, but the former cricketer is believed to have told his close circle that he does not wish to join politics. The BJP also made efforts to reach out to Bengali film industry icon Prosenjit Chatterjee. On January 23, Chatterjee had also attended the Prime Minister’s event at Victoria Memorial on the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. However, he too denied having any political ambitions.
Chakraborty had met RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat over breakfast at his Mumbai residence last month, setting off speculation that he might join the BJP.
Over the years, Chakraborty’s political career has seen all hues. Considered close to late CPM transport and sports minister Subhas Chakrabarty during the Left Front regime, the actor switched to the TMC and was nominated by the party to the Rajya Sabha in 2014. Two years later, he quit the Upper House citing health reasons after his name surfaced in the Saradha Ponzi scam.
“I left (the post of Rajya Sabha MP)… Today, I don’t want to point fingers at anyone that it was their fault or anyone else’s. It was my bad decision. Let’s end that topic here,” said Chakraborty, who rose to stardom with his role as a tribal archer in Mrinal Sen’s Mrigayaa in 1976. He won the National Film Award for best actor for the film.
A BJP source said the septugenerian would start campaigning for the party from March 12.
Unlike 2016 Assembly polls, this time the BJP has tried to get as many celebrities as possible, especially from the Bengali film industry, into the party’s fold to project a pro-Bengal approach. From Rudranil Ghosh, Yash Dasgupta, Hiran Chatterjee, Payel Sarkar, Srabanti Chatterjee to popular actors from the state’s television industry, the BJP has been garnering star power to counter the TMC’s high celeb quotient. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Bangladeshi actor Firdous had also campaigned for the TMC. As an actor with pan-India popularity, apart from being a household name in Bengal, Mithun Chakraborty is expected to be a massive crowd-puller at the BJP’s rallies and public meetings.
Chakraborty became a popular name in Bollywood and in foreign film markets such as the former Soviet Union in the 1980s, when he starred in a string of action movies, family dramas and musicals. Among his box office hits were ‘Disco Dancer’, ‘Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki’ and ‘Commando’. His action movies earned him a large following among youth growing up in the 1980s to 2000s. The actor also became a star in the Bengali film industry with major productions such as ‘Nadi theke Sagare’, ‘Troyee’, ‘Kalankini Kankabati’ and ‘MLA Fatakeshto’ making him a household name in Bengal.
Mithun Chakrabarty shares a good relationship with former state minister-turned-BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari, who is contesting against CM Mamata Banerjee from the high-profile Nandigram seat. The actor campaigned for Adhikari in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, which the latter won. Once again, Adhikari is banking on Chakraborty’s star power to bag a win.
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