Mithun Chakraborty joins BJP, sparks speculation as party’s CM face in Bengal
In a brief speech, Mithun Chakraborty asked BJP supporter to have faith in him because he had always done what he had promised.
Actor and former Rajya Sabha member Mithun Chakraborty joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Kolkata rally on Sunday afternoon about an hour before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plane arrived in the city, stoking speculations that he might become the BJP’s chief ministerial face for crucial assembly polls.
Senior Bengal BJP leaders did not comment on the speculations. “Never before did anyone join the BJP at the Prime Minister’s rally. Since we had to carry out the formality, Chakraborty was welcomed into the party by national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya before Modi Ji’s arrival,” a vice-president of Bengal BJP said.
“We are happy to welcome Mithun Chakraborty into the BJP,” one of the moderators announced over the public address system. However, most of the BJP leaders, who took turns in addressing the audience, did not mention the actor.
The actor arrived in Kolkata on Saturday evening reportedly in connection with a shoot. Vijayvargiya visited him at a private residence in north Kolkata late on Saturday night and tweeted photos.
Chakraborty arrived at the Brigade parade Ground, the venue of Modi’s rally, before noon. The crowd cheered as the veteran actor paced up and down the gigantic dais in dhoti and kurta and sporting a salt and pepper beard. He exchanged greetings with BJP leaders and even touched the feet of some veterans.
The 71-year-old Chakraborty delivered a short speech shortly before the PM’s arrival.
"Have faith in your Dada (elder brother). I have always done what I promised. I will keep my word and never abandon you."
He also repeated two of his famous one-liners from a couple of Bengali movies.
"I am about to start my campaign. I know you want to hear my famous dialogue 'Maarbo ekhane, lash porbe soshane' (I will hit you here and the body will land at the crematorium) but there is an even better one. 'Ami joldhora noi. Ami gokhro. Ek chhobolei chhobi' (I am not a water snake. I am a cobra. One bite will turn you into a photograph). This will be more appropriate now," Chakraborty said.
"This day is like a dream for me. I started my life from a blind lane in Kolkata's Jorabagan police station area. But I pursued my dream. I have always worked for the poor. None other than the BJP can provide a better opportunity to serve the poor. I am proud to be a Bengali. Do not forget this is the 150th birth anniversary of Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das. Do not forget Netaji. Do not forget Rani Rashmoni," said Chakraborty.
Modi, during his speech, referred to the veteran actor as a “son of the soil”. "A great son of the soil, Mithun Chakraborty, is here. His life and struggle are examples for the people," said the Prime Minister.
Reacting to Chakraborty's re-entry into politics TMC Lok Sabha member Saugata Roy said, "Mithun cannot be trusted. He was earlier with the CPI(M). After that Mamata Banerjee sent him to the Rajya Sabha. The moment the Enforcement Directorate went after him he returned the money he took from the Saradha group and sided with the BJP. He has surfaced again. Modi said Mithun is a son of Bengal. But is he fit to be the chief minister of Bengal? Does he qualify? Has he sacrificed?"
During his last visit to Bengal, Union home minister Amit Shah clearly said that a “dharti putra” (son of the soil) would be the next chief minister of Bengal, reiterating that his party will overthrow the Mamata Banerjee government by winning more than 200 of the state’s 294 assembly seats.
Speculations over Chakraborty started on February 16 when Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat met the actor in Mumbai. The meeting lasted for around 90 minutes, sparking speculations in political circles ahead of the Bengal polls.
Chakraborty however told the media that the meeting had nothing to do with politics as he wants to remain an actor. The RSS, too, said the meeting was pending for around two years and had no political connection.
Chakraborty, who was very close to CPI (M) leader and minister Subhas Chakraborty till the latter died, took part in many social welfare activities in Bengal in the 1990s.
After the Trinamool Congress (TMC) came to power, chief minister Mamata Banerjee made him a Rajya Sabha member in 2014. He resigned in 2016 citing health issues. TMC leaders, however, say the actor did not like his name being dragged into the Saradha chit fund case in which several ruling party leaders were named as accused.
Chakraborty, who started his career with Mrinal Sen's Mrigaya (The Hunt), for which he received the national award, was summoned by the Enforcement Directorate in 2015 in connection with the Saradha scam. Chakraborty returned ₹1.16 crore to the ED. He received the money as brand ambassador of the Saradha group.
Chakraborty first met Bhagwat at Nagpur in 2019. The meeting was described as a courtesy visit.