Lok Sabha Election results: Babul Supriyo eclipses Moon Moon Sen in Asansol, may lead BJP's West Bengal Assembly battle of 2021

Asansol, from where Babul Supriyo is leading, boasts of a mixed population with a substantial number of Hindi-speaking people who back the BJP.

Plaban Gupta May 23, 2019 16:02:45 IST
Lok Sabha Election results: Babul Supriyo eclipses Moon Moon Sen in Asansol, may lead BJP's West Bengal Assembly battle of 2021
  • The BJP's Babul Supriyo is all set to repeat his stellar performance in 2019 polls.

  • The industrial town of Asansol boasts of a mixed population with a substantial number of Hindi-speaking people who back the BJP.

  • The result puts Supriyo in a pole position to stake claim for leading the BJP’s fight against Mamata Banerjee in 2021.

Leading by more than 58,000 votes in his constituency of Asansol in West Bengal, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Babul Supriyo is all set to repeat his stellar performance in 2019 polls. The Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises was the first BJP candidate to win on his own without the help of any electoral ally in 2014, riding purely on the Modi wave.

Sharing its border with Jharkhand, the industrial town of Asansol boasts of a mixed population with a substantial number of Hindi-speaking people who back the BJP. Last year, the singer-turned politician’s constituency had hogged the headlines of vernacular newspapers in the state in connection with communal riots blamed on the Bajrang Dal’s Ram Navami processions. The BJP’s detractors as well as political experts had blamed the riots for polarisation in the industrial town, calling it manufactured and aimed at benefitting the saffron outfit. The BJP and Supriyo, however, accused the Trinamool Congress of minority appeasement and said the administration had failed to protect Hindus.

Lok Sabha Election results Babul Supriyo eclipses Moon Moon Sen in Asansol may lead BJPs West Bengal Assembly battle of 2021

File image of BJP leader Babul Supriyo. PTI

The constituency had witnessed sporadic violence even on polling day with television channels broadcasting footage of the angry junior minister locked in an altercation with presiding officers at an election booth. Even while the counting was going on, the minister, who never shies away from taking the battle to the Opposition, blamed the ruling dispensation in West Bengal of widespread rigging to hold on to seats and praised voters for defying TMC diktats and pressure.

In 2014, Supriyo had won the seat by a margin of 70,000 votes – an unexpected result given the party and candidate’s inability to post election agents at every booth. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had blamed internal fighting within the party for the poor results in 2014 and handpicked yesteryear’s matinee idol Moon Moon Sen to gloss over the fissures within the party. But the results seem to indicate that her choice has miserably failed as the actor failed to mount any challenge. It showed in the campaign: Sen was criticised for waking up late on polling day and being completely unaware of the trouble that took place at some polling stations.

The result puts Supriyo in a pole position to stake claim for leading the BJP’s fight against Mamata Banerjee in 2021 after the extraordinary performance of the party in the state where it has always been a fringe player. Supriyo has never hidden his ambition of taking up the BJP’s mantle in the state, though the state unit has at times tried to project him more as a leader with an eye on Delhi rather than Kolkata. With around 38 percent vote share and lead in 16 seats, the saffron outfit is now all set to breach what is known as final frontier for the Sangh Parivar. Though Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the predecessor of the BJP, was formed by Shyama Prasad Mukherjee – a leading figure in Bengal’s political history – the untimely death of the Mukherjee had led to BJS getting completely wiped off the political map of Bengal. In Supriyo, the BJP may have just found the right candidate to match the charisma and feisty nature of Mamata Banerjee.

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