Kolkata: Reacting to his party’s decision to drop him as a Union minister from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Cabinet two months ago, Babul Supriyo, two-time BJP MP from Asansol, defected to West Bengal's ruling Trinamul Congress on Saturday.
He was inducted into the TMC by party supremo and chief minister Mamata Banerjee's MP nephew Abhishek Banerjee at his office in south Kolkata in the presence of party MP Derek O'Brien. Mr Supriyo's switch to the TMC has reduced the BJP MPs' tally in the state to 17.
The former Union minister, who was fielded by the BJP from Tollygunge in the recent Assembly election but was defeated, said that he would meet the CM on September 20 and would quit as MP. He is likely to meet Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla the next day to tender his resignation.
Mr Supriyo said that he quit the BJP after his hope to become a full-time Central minister was dashed on July 7 when he was dropped as minister of state (MoS) in a major Union Cabinet reshuffle.
"I was disillusioned with the full-stop on the scope for my work. All of you know the limitations in power of an MoS which I served successfully for seven years in two terms. Like everyone, I also had expectations of getting a promotion. Had it been there, I would have been able to work more than before for the people. However it did not happen. There were a lot of differences in opinion also. Roads for work were getting narrow. So I was looking for a better opportunity,” he said.
"Mr O'Brien is a longtime friend. He offered me a new opportunity to work for the state under the leadership of TMC chief and Mr Banerjee. Everything happened in the last three days. It was unexpected,” the Asansol MP added.
Mr Supriyo's exit came as a bolt from the blue for the BJP which had tried to placate him following his public outbursts. The party's state spokesperson Shameek Bhattacharjee on Saturday called him a "traitor who played many roles, from a bank employee to a sportsperson to a singer to a minister briefly, for his own interest."
He said, "Our party made him a Union minister, not once but twice. But his ambition was to continue with the post. That did not happen. So he took revenge on the party and betrayed the voters of Asansol. The party suffers a loss of face temporarily if anyone leaves. It is a fact. But the voters of Asansol will surely elect our candidate in the 2024 Lok Sabha election."
BJP Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta tweeted, "I am sad @SuPriyoBabul has left BJP to ‘re-enter’ politics. I can’t speak about the future, but he was an asset to BJP and I would personally like to thank him for his services. For those of us for whom BJP is a lifelong commitment, the fight goes on — even in adverse circumstances."