Babul Supriyo, the BJP's Asansol MP who was dropped as Union Minister in the recent cabinet reshuffle, on Saturday said he was quitting politics. The Bollywood singer, however, made it clear he was not moving to any other party, emphasising that he was a "one-team player".
Announcing his decision to move on in a Facebook post -- mostly in Bengali -- Mr Supriyo said, "I'm leaving... Alvida (farewell)".
"....I am not going to any other party - #TMC, #Congress, #CPIM, nowhere...I am a one Team Player! Have always supported one team #MohunBagan...Have backed only BJP in West Bengal...That's it...I am going..." he wrote.
"If you want to do social work, you can do it without being in politics...let's organise myself a little first and then..."
Mr Supriyo said he was also quitting as MP.
Trinamool Congress spokesperson Kunal Ghosh dubbed the resignation mere drama. "If he really meant it, he should have resigned and not just said he was going to do it. This is drama, like the movie 'Sholay'."
Firhad Hakim, Trinamool minister, felt Mr Supriyo was merely bargaining for a better deal from the BJP after being sidelined in both the party and government.
Meanwhile, answering his own rhetorical question in the Facebook post, "Why am I leaving politics?" Mr Supriyo explained it was not a bid to "bargain" for a post. He urged Amit Shah and JP Nadda not to think he was and thanked them for their encouragement to stay on when he told them he wanted to quit.
Mr Supriyo admited that the loss of his position as Union Minister of State portfolio in this month's reshuffle was "certainly, partially" responsible for his decision to quit. When he was dropped, he had controversially tweeted "I was asked to resign" -- something recanted later.
Another reason, he said, was his realisation that things had changed for the BJP since 2014 when he was the sole party MP from Bengal. Now it's the state's main opposition party, full of Young Turks, he wrote, saying it doesn't need personalities anymore.
But the worst problem, Mr Supriyo tantalisingly hinted, were his clashes with the state BJP leadership. "It is no secret there were huge differences of opinion with the leadership of the BJP in Bengal before the elections. Some of it became public because of me," he said. But other leaders, too, were hugely responsible, he said. "The infighting among the top leadership of the party...that has hurt party workers."
BJP state chief and MP Dilip Ghosh played down the exit. "Who will do politics, when they will do politics, when they will stay or leave...I have nothing to say to that...That is their right...But has he resigned...You can make the news...but let us see what happens...He is in Lok Sabha, he is a fellow worker and an MP. Has he given a resignation letter? I don't know anything about this," he said.
One of the key issues with the BJP leadership was the entry of the former Trinamool mayor of Asansol into the BJP just before the elections. Jitendra Tiwari and Babul Supriyo were always at daggers drawn, with the latter strongly opposing the former's entry into the party, although in vain.
Mr Tiwari was fielded by the BJP in the Pandaveswar Assembly. He lost. But so did Mr Supriyo who was fielded from the Tollygunge constituency in south Kolkata. He lost by around 50,000 votes.
In conclusion, Mr Supriyo likened his latest move to his shift in his career earlier: "I did the same in 1992 while leaving the job at Standard Chartered Bank and fleeing to Mumbai, today I did the same."
After his Facebook post this afternoon, Mr Supriyo has been incommunicado. With the state BJP leadership insisting he was still very much a part of the party, the last word on the "resignation" may not have been said yet.