'Disillusioned in BJP,' says Babul Supriyo; saffron party hits back
Former Union Minister Babul Supriyo, who joined the Trinamool Congress Saturday, said he was "disillusioned" with the BJP. Supriyo's entry into the TMC is surprising as he had pledged retirement from politics this July. However, he maintained the warmth of TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and Abhishek Banerjee—a TMC leader and the CM's nephew—made him change his earlier position.
Speaking to NDTV, Supriyo used sports metaphors, explaining that he joined the TMC because he want to be in a "team" where the "coach" would want him on the "team." "I am not really okay with sitting on the bench," he said. Supriyo had announced his retirement from politics in July after being dropped as a Union Minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Cabinet.
Supriyo said that nobody had sent any feelers before he joined the TMC, and "everything happened in the past three days." He said he took the plunge after TMC MP Derek O'Brien told him about an "exciting and challenging" opportunity. He repeatedly indicated that he was sidelined in the BJP, adding that the TMC had already made him a part of the "playing 11."
Lamenting that he was sidelined in the BJP, Supriyo told NDTV, "I did feel disillusioned...the seven years of hard work that I put in...not even my detractors will say...I have not fought in Bengal or I have not done good enough for the party."
Meanwhile, West Bengal BJP leaders slammed Supriyo for joining the TMC. Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh described him as a "political tourist" whose exit or entry does not affect the saffron party. The state's Leader of Opposition, Suvendu Adhikari, said that Supriyo's exit is not a loss for the BJP, adding that the TMC turncoat should have informed the party before deciding to depart.
Supriyo is the fifth BJP leader, besides four MLAs, to join the TMC after Mamata Banerjee swept the West Bengal polls in May. TMC leaders said Supriyo's entry is only the beginning of a pattern. "Many BJP leaders are in communication with the TMC...They are not satisfied with the BJP...Babul Supriyo joined today...another wants to join tomorrow. Wait and watch," TMC's Kunal Ghosh said.
Tensions started to brew in early July when Supriyo was not inducted into Modi's new Cabinet. On July 31, the Asansol MP suddenly announced his retirement from politics on social media. However, Supriyo had not publicly expressed his grievances with the BJP at the time. He had said that he would not join any other political party, however, this comment was quickly redacted.