- 13 Bengali actors travelled from Kolkata to Delhi to join BJP
- Being seen as BJP's reply to Trinamool's Nusrat Jahan, Mimi Chakraborty
- They are expected to give BJP an edge in Bengal, ahead of 2021 polls
A galaxy of TV stars from Bengal joined the BJP on Thursday, delivering what is seen as a blow to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress in a fierce political turf war between the two parties.
Thirteen actors travelled all the way from Kolkata to Delhi and embraced the BJP's saffron and green scarves in the presence of the media. "It is risky to join the BJP in Bengal these days," said BJP's Bengal chief Dilip Ghosh, alleging that his party members were being intimidated and harassed by the state's ruling party.
"We bow to their courage, that in these circumstances they can even think of joining us," Mr Ghosh said, the actors standing behind him.
The new recruits -- Rishi Kaushik, Parno Mitra, Kanchana Moitra, Rupanjana Mitra, Biswajit Ganguly, Deb Ranjan Nag, Arindam Halder, Moumita Gupta, Anindya Banerjee, Sourav Chakravorty, Rupa Bhattacharya, Anjana Basu and Kaushik Chakraborty - are well-known faces in the world of Bengali TV series and films.
They are pitched as the BJP's answer to the Trinamool's celebrity first-time MPs Mimi Chakraborty and Nusrat Jahan, who have made quite an impact in their parliament debut.
BJP leaders also hope the new recruits will give the party an edge in the perception battle in Bengal, where the race for the 2021 assembly elections has already begun.
Mamata Banerjee, in the past, has picked several winners from the Bengal entertainment industry aka "Tollywood" - Shatabdi Roy, Tapas Pal, Sandhya Roy and Deb. The BJP seeks to beat the Chief Minister using her own strategy, collecting every possible face in its bid to win over Bengal.
In the national election, Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool received a stunning blow, winning 22 of Bengal's 42 seats compared to the BJP's 18.
The BJP's huge gains in Bengal signal a challenge for the Chief Minister to retain ground in the upcoming state election. Many believe Mamata Banerjee could call elections earlier to prevent the BJP from consolidating its Lok Sabha election gains.
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