With easy victories of former union ministers and BJP leaders Shatrughan Sinha and Babul Supriyo on Trinamool Congress tickets from Asansol Lok Sabha and Ballygunge assembly constituencies in West Bengal respectively, the ruling party of state has in effect turned into a rehabilitation centre for some politicians who were rejected by the party ruling at the centre. More so because earlier, the first finance minister of Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1998-2004), Yashwant Sinha, had joined the state party.
Supriyo gave away the Hindi-speaking population dominated Asansol to Sinha while the singer-turned-politician who was not included in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s current council of union ministers fought from the posh locality of south Kolkata about a year after he had lost Tollygunge, a badly selected seat for him, on BJP’s nomination at the West Bengal assembly election.
The by-poll victories establish that these politicians win or lose, depending on the party that backs them, with their personal charisma not playing much of a role in the contests. Actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha had quit the BJP before the Lok Sabha election in 2019 and joined the INC. The former Lok Sabha MP from Patna Sahib did not stand a chance in the contest with Ravi Shankar Prasad, as the constituency is a citadel of the BJP.
After joining the Trinamool Congress last year, Shatrughan Sinha is the state party’s latest catch as part of its national expansion plan, some media commentators are saying, but the bid to expand the footprint across the national map recently came a cropper in both Goa and Manipur where the West Bengal-based party put up a less-than-modest show.
Supriyo, the former union minister who was also a two-time BJP MP from Asansol, was elected to the Lok Sabha seat in 2014 and 2019. But he lost the assembly election from Tollygunge on the BJP ticket in 2021. And then he was dropped from the union cabinet during the reshuffle in July last year.
Veteran leader and former finance minister Yashwant Sinha, another one with no plan to quit politics in the foreseeable future, joined the Trinamool Congress last year and was made the vice president of the party before the Bengal election. But the party has not given Yashwant Sinha any electoral nomination so far. Yashwant Sinha, along with turncoats like Sushmita Dev and Luizinho Faleiro, is part of the party’s larger plan outside West Bengal.
The “All India” prefix in the registered name of the Trinamool Congress may amuse many, but it has been trying to make a mark in as distant a state as Haryana and Uttar Pradesh as another “All India” aspirant Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen keeps trying its luck in any state where the Muslim electorate might have gotten tired of the self-styled secular parties. The AIADMK, which has hardly any presence outside Tamil Nadu, is the most paradoxically named “All India” party.
The writer is a veteran journalist