Asansol, May 4: A Trinamul roadshow by Dev to counter Narendra Modi’s campaign meeting in Asansol was called off at the last moment today, with the ruling party citing the actor’s “busy schedule” for his absence.
Trinamul insiders, however, said that the party called off the roadshow to avoid the BJP’s criticism that Trinamul had been banking on celebrities to take on Modi in the absence of any star campaigner from the world of politics.
The ruling party has decided to hold a meeting tomorrow to be addressed by all-India general secretary Mukul Roy and actor-turned-MP Mithun Chakraborty on Asansol Polo Ground, where Modi spoke today. Trinamul MP Kalyan Banerjee will also hold a roadshow from Barakar to Asansol that will be attended by actress Padmini Kolhapure.
Asked about the cancelled event, Dev said: “Don’t drag me into this.” The actor campaigned for Trinamul’s Jadavpur candidate Sugata Bose in Sonarpur, South 24-Parganas, later this evening.
Trinamul candidate in Asansol Dola Sen, who had last week announced at a news conference that Dev and other actors would campaign for her, today said the Ghatal nominee had a “busy schedule in his constituency”. “So he could not come. But this will not have any impact on my campaign trail,” Sen added.
A Trinamul leader in Asansol said: “Had we organised Dev’s show, the BJP would have accused us of relying on actors to attract people on a day Modi was in town.”
Trinamul has of late faced criticism from the Opposition for banking on actors and celebrities for campaigning.
State BJP chief Rahul Sinha today said: “Trinamul is depending on actors and theatre personalities in this election because of a dearth of leading political faces. Mamata Banerjee’s decreasing popularity is also a reason.”
Pointed out that his party, too, has fielded singers Bappi Lahiri and Babul Supriyo, Sinha said: “They joined the party on their own after being impressed with our ideals.”
Asansol has a considerable Hindi-speaking population and a business community that could tilt towards the BJP, the prime reason why the party is focusing on the seat and decided to bring in Modi to campaign for candidate Supriyo.