Babul Supriyo, Till Recently A Union Minister, Joins Team Mamata

Babul Supriyo was asked to resign as junior minister in the Environment Ministry in July

Former BJP leader Babul Supriyo joined Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress today

Kolkata:

Former Union Minister Babul Supriyo joined Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress today, two months after he was asked to resign as junior minister in the Environment Ministry and a month after saying he won't join any other party and would quit politics. Later, he amended his plans and said he would remain a Member of Parliament.

"If opportunity comes your way, you should decide, and I have decided to take this," Mr Supriyo told reporters today. He was listed as the BJP's star campaigner for the Bhabanipur bypoll, where the BJP's Priyanka Tibrewal will contest against Ms Banerjee on September 30.

Mr Supriyo is the fifth BJP leader - the four others were BJP MLAs - to join Trinamool Congress after Ms Banerjee's party won the assembly election in May and retained power. Trinamool leader Kunal Ghosh today said more BJP leaders are in talks to join the party. "Many BJP leaders are in communication with Trinamool leadership. They are not satisfied with BJP. One (Mr Supriyo) joined today, another wants to join tomorrow. This process will go on. Wait and watch," Mr Ghosh said, news agency ANI reported.

Mr Supriyo was seen to be upset after he was made to quit as Union Minister in the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who refreshed the cabinet by appointing 43 new names in July.

"I'm surely sad for myself," Mr Supriyo had tweeted on July 8, the day he resigned as Union Minister, and later deleted the post to replace with a new one that said he was "extremely happy" that he left the stint "without a spot of corruption on me".

In photos tweeted by the Trinamool today, Mr Supriyo, flanked by party leaders Abhishek Banerjee and Derek O'Brien, wearing a scarf adorned with the party's election symbol is seen smiling and shaking hands with Mr Banerjee.

This camaraderie on social media is in stark contrast to turbulent times between Mr Supriyo and Ms Banerjee during campaigning for the assembly election and before that.

In June 2019, Mr Supriyo had taken a swipe at the Chief Minister after she objected to BJP supporters shouting "Jai Shri Ram" over what she claimed was the BJP trying to "create unrest in West Bengal by mixing religion with politics". "She is an experienced politician but her behaviour is abnormal and bizarre," the former junior Environment Minister had said.

In February this year, three months before the assembly election in West Bengal, Mr Supriyo had taken a dig at Ms Banerjee over the Trinamool's election slogan, "Bengal wants its daughter". Mr Supriyo then tweeted, "Yes, we will send her off this time." Though Ms Banerjee lost the election from Nandigram, her party performed well and stopped the BJP's march in Bengal.