Actor-turned-politician Moon Moon Sen, the "giant slayer" of Trinamool Congress, admits she was surprised that her party chief Mamata Banerjee shifted her from Bengal's Bankura - where she scored an impressive win against a nine-time Left MP - to Asansol.
"I had no idea... It depended on confidence in me... My name was not on any list. Until she herself came and said Asansol, and I was surprised. I thought I would be working in Bankura."
There have been reports that Trinamool leaders felt Moon Moon Sen, since her win in Bankura, didn't do much in the constituency. Her popularity had dipped significantly, according to local leaders, and she was hardly visible as an MP.
In Asansol, Moon Moon Sen is up against a member of her film fraternity, so to speak. Her main rival is Asansol's lawmaker, the BJP's Babul Supriyo, a playback singer and Union Minister. Star power against star power, the Trinamool reportedly strategised while deciding on moving her.
Babul Supriyo, who also won an unlikely victory against the Left in his first election in 2014, is supremely confident of winning again.
"I don't think he is my principal rival at all... I think his party is a rival. But if you have a way from having won in Bankura where you have defeated a nine-time MP then I don't think you have to worry about any other singers... or someone else," Moon Moon Sen said.
Babul Supriyo is equally confident, she was reminded.
"We're both fools, aren't we? But yes, I am absolutely certain that Triamool will win," said the actor, who has worked in Hindi and Bengali movies.
Asked about her plans for Asansol, the 65-year-old focuses on pollution in an industrial town that has seen many of its industries shutting down over the years. "Asansol is more or less unknown to the rest of India. But when I have come here as an MP I would say it is important to get rid of the pollution because it is an industrial town. We have to plant a lot of trees. We will be working with the district magistrate."
What of the loss of industries, the lawmaker was asked.
"It is not about just 20 companies that have closed down in the last five years. It is the companies which have chimneys out of which a lot of black smoke is coming out, which is very bad for the environment."
Moon Moon Sen is the daughter of legendary Bengali actress Suchitra Sen. Her daughters Riya and Raima are also well-known actors. Would they join her?
"Yes they are. They are both working. I had to beg and plead," she admits.
But she adds that she will "survive" even if the girls don't campaign for her. "There is a wave for Trinamool here, for development, for change," she says.
Asansol votes on April 29 in the seven-phase election that starts Thursday. The results will be announced on May 23.
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