Babul Supriyo and Aroop Biswas are set to clash in the hub of the Bengali film industry.
The high-profile Tollygunge seat, considered a hub of the Bengali film industry, is all set for a clash between Union Minister Babul Supriyo of the BJP and West Bengal Public Works Department Minister Aroop Biswas of the Trinamool Congress. The CPI(M) has fielded a fresh face, actor Debdut Ghosh, in the constituency which will go to the polls in the fourth phase on April 10.
With the Trinamool and the BJP locked in a bitter battle for power, the film industry has now been polarised on political lines. Both the parties have fielded several high-profile actors. But control over the industry is incomplete without a victory in Tollygunge in posh south Kolkata and home to Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, the upper-middle class, refugees, and Hindi-speaking people.
Mr. Supriyo, who is also a well-known singer, is confident of unsettling his rival, Mr. Biswas, who has a long association with the film industry. “A syndicate raj has been established in the film industry by the Trinamool and the Biswas brothers [Aroop and Swarup]. This has to end,” he said. The Union Minister alleged that the studio area — the neighbourhood of New Theatres studio, Technician’s Studio and the NT1 studio — has witnessed “unprecedented coercion” by the brothers who have forced technicians and artists to either follow their diktats or go without a job for over a decade now. “We will end this dictatorship,” Mr. Supriyo said.
The BJP leader also said that the “syndicate raj and cut money culture prevalent in the construction sector” in Tollygunge must stop. In West Bengal, the term ‘syndicate’ refers to a business run by persons allegedly enjoying political patronage, who force promoters and contractors to buy construction materials, often of inferior quality, at high prices.
Mr. Biswas contended that the TMC has worked for the film industry’s development and has taken it to new heights in the last 10 years. “The BJP and Bengali culture are the anti-thesis of each other. Both can never go together,” he said. Rubbishing Mr. Supriyo’s allegations, Mr. Biswas said, “The government only comes in when there is a crisis in the film industry and various bodies seek its intervention.” He claimed that unlike the CPI(M) regime, there had been no interference in businesses and entrepreneurial activities in the past 10 years.
Mr. Ghosh said although the Trinamool has established a “reign of terror in the industry”, choosing the BJP would be “harakiri (suicidal)” as the parties are two sides of the same coin.