BJP launches 2 bodies to take on TMC’s control over Bengal film, TV industries
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in West Bengal has launched two organisations for the Bengali film and television industry, which has been a stronghold of the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC), within barely a week’s time.
Bangiya Chalachchitra Parishad (BCP) was launched on June 22 by veteran actor Biswajit Chatterjee, who joined BJP in New Delhi in February this year. It has actor-turned-BJP MP from Hooghly Locket Chatterjee as an advisor. It is working together with Film Industries Workers’ Union, an organisation affiliated to Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, the trade union wing of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
On June 29, Eastern India Motion Pictures & Cultural Confederation (EIMPCC) was launched in the presence of the BJP state unit president and Midnapore MP Dilip Ghosh and Union minister Babul Supriyo, the MP from Asansol.
BCP and EIMPCC have been set up for artists, technicians and producers. Both vow to free the industry in Tollygunge – popularly called Tollywood – from ‘TMC-enforced malpractices’. Tollygunge is part of south Kolkata.
“We are starting with the Tollygunge industry in Bengal but would later spread the organisation to Assam, Odisha and Jharkhand,” BJP state executive member Sadhan Talukdar said.
Talukdar, who is also a film producer, and Arunabha Majumdar, president of BJP’s south Kolkata district unit, are part of EIMPCC.
Fashion designer Agnimitra Paul, who is also a member of the advisory board of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), EIMPCC’s president and Baban Ghosh the chairperson. Baban Ghosh was a TMC youth leader who was inducted by Dilip Ghosh in 2017.
“BCP has BJP national general secretary in charge of Bengal, Kailash Vijayvargiya, and national executive member Mukul Roy as its advisors,” said BJP leader Shankudeb Panda, general secretary of BCP.
Panda, a former state unit chief of the TMC’s student wing, was inducted in the BJP earlier this year by Mukul Roy. Panda directed a film earlier.
The BJP’s state vice-president Biswapriya Roychowdhury is BCP’s president and Rantidev Sengupta, who edits Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) Bengali organ Swastika, as vice-president.
“Bengal’s ruling party uses film and television artists to win elections but does not care for the survival of the industry. We pleaded repeatedly for the state’s help and are quite fed up now. A new organisation was necessary to fight for the revival of the industry,” said producer Krishna Narayan Daga, former president of Eastern India Motion Pictures Association (EIMPA), who has joined EIMPCC.
In a remark that made his backing evident for EIMPCC, Dilip Ghosh said on June 29, when asked about the launch of BCP, “Does the other organisation have any registration?”
BCP has called for a press meeting on July 1 to announce its programmes. The meet will be held jointly with the Kolkata Film Industries Workers’ Union, which is affiliated to the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), the trade union wing of RSS, the BJP’s ideological parent.
“We have no idea what the other organisation (EIMPCC) is planning,” Panda said.
The launch of two organisations by BJP’s state unit leaders has baffled a section of film and television industry workers.
“Several of us wanted an organisation to take on the TMC’s monopoly and highhandedness. We are finding it difficult to choose between the two,” said an actor, who did not want to be identified.
Influential TMC minister and Tollygunje MLA Aroop Biswas’ brother Swarup, who is the president of Federation of Cine Technicians & Workers of Eastern India (FCTWEI), is at present the most influential person in the city’s studio hub. FCTWEI is part of the Mumbai-based All India Film Employees Confederation.
Swarup Biswas, whose wife Jui is the TMC councillor from Ward 81 of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, maintains that the organisation is apolitical.
Reacting to the formation of BCP, Swarup Biswas said, “These are efforts to divide the industry. I would not comment on those political initiatives because FCTWEI is an apolitical organisation.”
Majority of the industry’s top-rung actors are seen around chief minister Mamata Banerjee at most of her events. Mamata Banerjee even started an award ceremony for the film and television industry after coming to power.
Four actors are currently the ruling party’s Lok Sabha members - Dipak Adhikary (Dev), Shatabdi Roy, Mimi Chakraborty and Nusrat Jahan. Two others, Chiranjit Chakraborty and Debashree Roy are MLAs. Actor Mithun Chakraborty was previously a Rajya Sabha MP while Tapas Paul and Moon Moon Sen were Lok Sabha MPs.
The BJP has made actor Roopa Ganguly a Rajya Sabha member and actor George Baker was made a President-nominated member of the Lok Sabha from West Bengal. Actor Joy Banerjee is a national executive member of the party.