Babul Supriyo is a man of many distinctions. In 2014, he was distinctively the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) only Member of Parliament (MP) from West Bengal. Thereafter, he distinctively became the first Bengal BJP MP to inducted into the first Modi cabinet. In 2019, as he was re-elected as MP from Asansol, he earned the distinction of being the only BJP MP from Bengal to be made minister twice.
Thereafter, Supriyo was fielded as MLA candidate in the 2021 West Bengal assembly elections, where he earned the distinction of losing by a bigger margin than any of the other MPs that the BJP had fielded for the polls.
In a Facebook post on 31 July, Supriyo said that he’d be quitting politics as well as MP-ship. Thereafter, on 2 August he announced that he will continue as MP of Asansol but will “not do any politics outside his constitutional post”. This gave him the distinction of being the first Indian politician who, by his own admission, is no longer a part of Indian politics.
What Led To Supriyo Calling It Quits & Then Making A U-Turn?
Supriyo has all but explicitly stated why he “quit politics” in his long, flowery Facebook post. Interestingly, the post was edited three times since it was first posted. He first edited the post to add that he’d “obviously” also quit as MP, and then again in a later edit, removed a line where he said he will “not be joining the Congress or TMC or any other party”.
In the post he stated that his exit as minister had something to do with his decision “to some extent”. He further added that since before the Bengal elections, there were differences between him and state leaders of the BJP.
These differences were out in the open and had ostensibly surfaced in public before the assembly elections as well. In the past, The Quint had reported on factions in the Bengal BJP and a cold war of sorts between the state President Dilip Ghosh and senior leaders, Babul Supriyo and Mukul Roy. Since then Mukul Roy has left the saffron brigade to go back to his former party, the Trinamool Congress.
Supriyo, who had a fiery social media exchange with Ghosh after being dropped as minister, is now the next to go. Though, unlike Roy who has clearly switched sides, Supriyo is trying to occupy a grey space and is yet to officially resign from the BJP.
When asked about Supriyo’s bid to quit politics, the state BJP has been quiet. When Ghosh was asked about it at a press conference he said he “had no knowledge of the incident” and thereafter threatened to end the press conference if he was asked more questions on Supriyo.
On the other hand, the way the central leadership of the BJP has handled Supriyo in the time after the 2019 elections indicates that he slowly fell out of favour. Therefore, party insiders say that the leadership didn’t see him calling quits as a “big loss”. However, his announcement on Saturday night created one problem for the party – that of a possible by-election in the Asansol Lok Sabha constituency.
Maybe that’s why Nadda held two meetings with Supriyo since he wrote the post. Sources in the BJP say that the high command showed no qualms in criticizing Babul for his social media outburst. However, he was told that he could make amends if he retains his seat and does not force the BJP into a by-election. As many observers have pointed out, a loss for the BJP in a by-election, in a seat where it has built its presence, would be extremely demoralizing at a time when it is still recovering from its defeat in the Bengal elections.
“Even if there eventually has to be a by-poll, it is in the party’s interest to buy as much time as they can,” said a party insider.
What Supriyo’s Exit Means For The Bengal BJP
Supriyo’s exit comes at a time when an organisational overhaul is impending in the Bengal BJP. As The Quint has reported earlier, this overhaul will look to primarily address two things:
The factions within the state unit.
Address the concerns of older, OG BJP leaders.
With Mukul now out and Babul out for all practical purposes, it seems like Dilip Ghosh will now be allowed to reign supreme in the party – a decision that has been facilitated by the central leadership.
The party not going out of its way to get Supriyo back is also a message that those who have not worked hard for the party, will not be rewarded. Organisational rewards are being tipped as a direct result of contribution to electoral victories.
“The next big head to roll may be Saumitra Khan. Whether he continues in the party or not is a different matter, but his role in the organization is being reconsidered. It is being made clear that public disobedience to the party will not be taken kindly”, said a BJP source.
The recent big exits from the BJP's leadership problem in Bengal was probably filled hastily by inducting those who did not have the dedication to the party or the ideology like, say, a Dilip Ghosh.
This leadership was created by leveraging individual ambitions which the BJP and the leaders involved could not balance.
Now that the leaders see their ambitions not being fulfilled, there is naturally no motivation to work for the party either.
The Trinamool Congress, while publicly mocking Supriyo, is keeping a close eye on his next move and that of the BJP high command as well.
Will we see Babul saying “dil ne dil se pukara, lo mai aaya” to the TMC soon? Time will tell, but one thing is for sure – this is not the end of the Babul Supriyo saga.
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