Mithun Chakraborty joins BJP: From Naxal sympathies in early days to role in Saradha case, a look at actor's political rows
Chakraborty's tumultuous political forays over the past decades have often been associated with controversies
Way back in 1969, Mithun Chakraborty was said to have been asked by his father to leave Kolkata (then Calcutta), as he was being swayed by the Naxalite ideology. Over 50 years later, the actor joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the same city on Sunday, marking the latest chapter in a story of nearly unthinkable political acrobatics.
Indeed, in the last five decades, Chakraborty has shifted from being drawn towards the Naxalites, being close to the mainstream Communist Party of India (Marxist), then joining the Trinamool Congress (TMC), and now switching to the BJP. Despite his affiliations with various political parties, however, he has not succeeded in creating any lasting political legacy till now.
Here is a look at the various controversies that have been associated with Chakraborty's political forays.
Mithun Chakraborty was born on 16 July, 1950, in a lower-middle-class Bengali family. His original name was Gauranga.
Later, he studied in Kolkata's prestigious Scottish Church College, which boasts of Subhash Chandra Bose, Nepal's first prime minister BP Koirala and Gopinath Bordoloi, the first chief minister of Assam, as its students. At the time, he was drawn to the Naxalite ideology and even had to go in hiding for some time, as noted by an article in India Today.
When Chakraborty later shifted to Mumbai to pursue a career in acting, his earlier political beliefs were already known to the film industry. He was quoted as saying in an interview to journalist Ali Peter John, "People in the industry and outside it knew all about my involvement with the Naxalite movement in Calcutta and my close links with Charu Mazumdar, the fiery leader of the Naxalites. I had quit the movement after there was a tragedy in my family, but the label of being a Naxalite moved with me wherever I went, whether it was the FTII in Pune or when I came to Bombay in the late seventies."
Chakraborty was seen as a politically conscious actor and often cast by Leftist movie directors. In 1980, he even played the lead role in the film 'The Naxalites', which was based on the extremist left-wing movement.
After Chakraborty began acting in films, he adopted a more mainstream left-of-centre ideology. He was known to be close to the late CPM leader Subhash Chakraborty, as noted by an article in The Print. However, he began to distance himself from the CPM after the Jyoti Basu era ended.
Rajya Sabha stint
Chakraborty was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the TMC in 2014, but the actor did not actively participate in parliamentary proceedings. As noted by an article in The Times of India, during his stint, he asked zero questions, did not participate in even a single debate and had a 10 percent attendance in Parliament.
He quit the Upper House in 2016 citing health reasons after his name surfaced in the Saradha ponzi scam. He was a brand ambassador for the Saradha group, was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate about money received from the company. He has now reportedly returned the amount he received from the group to the probe agency.
This was not Chakraborty's only recent run-in with law enforcement agencies. In October 2020, the Mumbai Police filed an FIR against his son Mahaakshay and Mithun's wife Yogita Bali on a complaint of rape and cheating filed by a woman.
The police had registered an offence under section 376 (rape), 313 (causing miscarriage without woman's consent) and others, and the probe was transferred to the crime branch in Delhi. A Delhi court later granted anticipatory bail to Mahaakshay and his mother in the case.
Last month, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat met the actor at his Mumbai bungalow over breakfast, setting off speculation that he might join the BJP.
On Sunday, he joined the BJP at Brigade Parade Ground at Kolkata ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's mega rally.
The prime minister termed him as Banglar chhele (son of Bengal) and said that is life and struggle is an inspiration for everyone.
Chakraborty also said he had committed a mistake by joining the Trinamool Congress.
The extent to which the actor's entry into the BJP will boost the party's prospects in West Bengal is unclear. However, Chakraborty's saffron switch underlines how no possibility is too unrealistic when it comes to politics.
With inputs from PTI
Was not into electoral politics before but RSS taught me to serve nation, says Bengal BJP chief
West Bengal Assembly election 2021, Bally profile: TMC's Baishali Dalmiya emerged victorious in 2016
Bally is an Assembly constituency in the Howrah district of West Bengal. It falls under the Howrah Lok Sabha constituency
West Bengal Assembly Elections 2021 Updates: BJP tried to 'intimidate voters' with Cooch Behar firing, claims Mamata Banerjee
West Bengal Assembly Elections 2021 LIVE Updates: Amid polling for the fourth phase of elections on Saturday, four people died in the district's Sitalkuchi when CISF personnel opened fire allegedly after coming under attack from locals