KOLKATA: Singing star-turned politician Babul Supriyo says he has met his detractors and assuaged their apprehensions about him, adding that he remained committed to Bengal's secular culture.
Stating that he was confident of winning the by-polls from Ballygunge, the former BJP central minister who joined Trinamool Congress last year said Saturday he believes support for TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee would remain "overwhelming".
He also said that he has no differences with anyone in the prestigious assembly constituency from which his new party has fielded him. "Lot of people had legitimate apprehensions in their mind that I am new to the party after coming from an opponent party - I have met all (people having apprehensions about me) a couple of times and answered them. Things have been sorted out," Supriyo told PTI in an interview.
The former BJP MP from Asansol, who switched over to the TMC this September, said he had a "great meeting" with people who had voiced apprehensions about him, at a get together on the occasion of Shab-e-Barat in the city's Park Circus area on Friday night.
An Imams' body from the area had questioned the rationale of fielding the former BJP central minister of state for environment from a constituency which late TMC leader Subrata Mukherjee, who they had described as a `trusted secular leader', had represented.
Earlier this week, Supriyo had tweeted in Bengali that he will work to protect "Bengal's culture, history and secularism" and that people of Asansol which he represented earlier in the Lok Sabha, knew that he had never indulged in "politics of caste or religious divide".
Tagging @BJP4Bengal, he had gone on to state that he had left BJP because of its "politics of hatred and divisiveness". "I do not think there is anything which will go against me. Because first of all I am Mamata Banerjee's candidate and secondly, I have won in Asansol twice. My records will speak for me," Supriyo said.
In 2019 general elections, Supriyo won the Asansol seat defeating TMC's Moon Moon Sen, Bollywood star of yesteryears, by 1.97 lakh votes. However, two years later in 2021, the singing star lost Tollygunge assembly constituency, where Bengal's movie studios are located, by over 50,000 votes to his TMC rival.
The former minister however went on to add that he did not wish complacency to set in to the campaign and cautioned that "overconfidence is always a dangerous thing". Supriyo however also added, he believed that with TMC Supremo Mamata Banerjee's popularity ratings soaring "there is no way people will vote against her or any of representatives".
Banerjee had led TMC to a landslide victory in both the assembly polls last year and municipal polls held this year. Babul pointed out that despite "sabotage" from within the BJP, he managed to win the Lok Sabha elections from Asansol in 2019 with a huge margin only because he worked for the people there.
"I have done a lot of work for Asansol. During the first election, they might have voted for me listening to my songs. But the second time I won with a two-lakh margin despite sabotage from within my own party (BJP). My record is quite strong," he said.
"That time 70 per cent people were with me, but now I have 100 per cent people with me. Last time I had to work under Yogi Adityanath's 80:20 formula, but this time it's an open ground for me. So, I have no confusion about winning the elections," he claimed.
Reacting to the BJP Ballygunge candidate claiming that she would worst him at the hustings, Supriyo said politely, "I have seen what Keya Ghosh said about being 100 per cent confident of winning. I wish her all the best."
He also said that he believed that despite CPM fielding a respected social activist against him, it would be an uphill task for the party which had ruled Bengal for 34-years, as it would be difficult to "dent TMC's vote-bank". "Support for Mamata Banerjee and the TMC is overwhelming here," he said.