Veteran matinee idol Biswajit Chatterjee joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in New Delhi on Monday in the presence of party general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and other senior leaders.
Former Trinamool Congress General Secretary Shanku Deb Panda too crossed over to the BJP.
The 83-year-old Biswajit is likely to contest the Lok Sabha elections from any parliamentary constituency in West Bengal, where the BJP has been looking for some prominent faces.
He is the second actor to join the BJP after Moushumi Chatterjee, who pitched her lot with the saffron party last month.
He had contested the 2014 general elections from New Delhi as a Trinamool candidate against Congress’ Ajay Maken and BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi, but finished 7th, securing only 909 votes.
Already a known face in Bengali cinema, Biswajit cemented his place as a romantic “hero” in Bollywood with films like “Bees Saal Baad” (1962), “Kismat” (1968) and “Night in London” (1967) that featured songs like “Bekarar Kar Ke Humein”, “Kajra Mohabbat Wala” and “O My Love”.
Later, speaking to media persons, he said he wanted to work for the country and decided to join the BJP after seeing what Prime Minister Narendra Modi has achieved over the past 56 months.
“I want to work for the country. I had focussed on one person. I have seen what all he has achieved. In my eyes, Narendra Modi outshines all other leaders,” he said.
About his 2014 foray into politics as a Trinamool candidate, he said: “Nobody knew that party (in Delhi). I went from alley to alley in Delhi to tell people that there is a party called Trinamool Congress. I had contested the seat knowing very well I will lose. I have no regrets for that.”
Panda launched a veiled attack on Chief Minister and Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee.
Refering to Banerjee’s comments earlier in the day seeking an investigation into the Pulwama attack, in which 40 CRPF troopers were killed, he said: “I heard somebody seeking an investigation into the incident. I have left the company of those who work as agents of Pakistan.”
“And, despite living in India, if you say things that insult the sacrifice of the soldiers, then the youth will hit the streets against you. I want to ask you why you are not starting a dharna against the Pulwama attack,” he said, in another apparent dig at Banerjee, who had held a 45-hour sit-in after an ugly spat between the Kolkata police and the CBI over the latter’s attempts to quiz Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar in connection with the ponzi scam probe.
Incidentally, Panda has been quizzed by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate in the Saradha ponzi scheme scam. He was also purportedly seen in the video of the Narada sting operation seeking a “benami stake” in a fictitious company in return for his help.
In Kolkata, State BJP president Dilip Ghosh gave a somewhat tepid response to the duo’s entry into his party.
“So long, they were in Trinamool. Political leaders change parties like football players. This is a tradition in India during the election season.
“Our central leaders thought this is the correct step, so they have taken them. If they come to me, I will try to make them work within our party constitution. Society will decide who is right or wrong. And CBI is not going to spare any of them,” he said.