Trinamool's "Khela Hobe" Quip As BJP's Pawan Singh Quits Asansol Contest

Trinamool's 'Khela Hobe' Quip As BJP's Pawan Singh Quits Asansol Contest

Bhojpuri actor-singer Pawan Singh was picked by the BJP for the Asansol Lok Sabha seat

New Delhi:

Amid a massive backlash over the BJP fielding him from Asansol Lok Sabha seat in West Bengal, Bhojpuri actor-singer Pawan Singh has said he would not be contesting the election. "I thank the BJP leadership for trusting me and announcing my name as the candidate from Asansol, but I won't be able to contest the election for some reason," he said in a tweet in Hindi this afternoon.

The choice of 38-year-old Singh, a resident of Bihar, for the Bengal seat had sparked a huge row. Many had also pointed to his discography, which has several songs with objectionable references to Bengali women. The backlash on social media did not go unnoticed and the BJP, sources said, anticipated that Mr Singh's candidature may harm its prospects in Asansol. A decision to drop him was taken, and he was informed accordingly, the sources added. Then came the tweet in which the actor-singer said he is pulling out.

The Asansol Lok Sabha seat is currently replaced by Trinamool Congress's Shatrughan Sinha. Mr Sinha was elected in a 2022 bypoll after singer-politician Babul Supriyo, who won the seat for the BJP in the 2014 and 2019 general elections, switched to the Trinamool. 

Soon after the Bhojpuri actor's post, Trinamool's national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee said the pullout was a result of the indomitable spirit and people of the people of West Bengal. Party leader Derek O'Brien quipped, "This is Khela Hobe even before the khela begins."

Mr Supriyo claimed that Mr Singh was pressured by BJP to withdraw. "It's absolutely impossible that BJP would name a candidate in their first list without taking his consent or without a detailed discussion with the candidate. Now they admit it was an insult to Bengali women and Bengali sensibilities, that BJP never ever understood in the first place. They have been shown the mirror!," he said.

Earlier, several Opposition leaders, including Congress's Abhishek Singhvi and Trinamool's Saket Gokhale, had hit out at the BJP for choosing Pawan Singh as its candidate.

"My head bend in shame after looking at the content created and propagated by BJP's Asansol Lok Sabha candidate. The doom's day of democracy is quite near!," Mr Singhvi had said. Trinamool MP Gokhale had said the Bhojpuri actor-singer "makes videos that are extremely VULGAR & misogynist & targets the women of Bengal" and described the BJP's choice as "sickening and reprehensible".

Criticism had come from within the BJP as well. Veteran leader and former Governor Tathagata Roy had called for a "fresh look" at Asansol.

"Unlike TMC, where candidature is decided by the whims and fancies of one woman, BJP chooses its candidates on a systematic survey. However, the surveyors are not infallible nor free from prejudice. A fresh look at Asansol is called for. Immediately," he said in a post on X.