Kolkata: If the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had been leveraging on the presence on veteran Bollywood actor Mithun Chakraborty in their election rallies in West Bengal, the ruling Trinamool Congress pulled off a coup by bringing over Jaya Bachchan to be part of their campaign for the next three days. The third phase of polling in the high voltage elections in the state will be taking place on Tuesday.
‘‘I have not come to act,’’ said the 72-year-old actor and wife of Amitabh Bachchan, who had been a Rajya Sabha MP since 2004 on nomination from the Samajwadi Party. ‘‘Akhilesh ji (Yadav), my leader, told me that we are supporting Trinamool Congress in this elections. It’s out of love and respect for a single woman fighting against all atrocities which has brought me here,’’ Bachchan said in reference to Mamata Banerjee. ‘‘Head broken, leg broken - but they could not break her heart,’’ she said in a terse address to the media at the Trinamool Bhavan.
‘‘Amar nam Jaya Bachchan...age amar nam chilo Jaya Bhaduri. Amar babar nam Tarun Bhaduri (My name is Jaya Bachchan, I was Jaya Bhaduri before. My father’s name was Tarun Bhaduri),’’ the actor par excellence who churned out classics like ‘Abhiman,’ ‘Guddi’ introduced herself - trying to establish an obvious connect with the people of the state.
She later reached the Tollygunge area to be part of a roadshow in support of the sitting MLA, Arup Biswas, who is locked in a high profile battle with former Union minister of state, Babul Suriyo.
If she had spent her formative years in Kolkata and made her acting debut in Satyajit Ray’s ‘Mahanagar’ (The Metropolis) in mid-Sixties, Bachchan had moved on to Bollywood after her acting course in the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) and settled in Mumbai since the early Seventies. She got married to Amitabh Bachchan in 1973.
The fiesty Bachchan has recently been seen taking on the ruling BJP on the floor of the House on several occasions. The Bachchans, incidentally, have always maintained a good equation with Mamata Banerjee and attended the Kolkata International Film Festival in 2018.
Much like the way BJP is trying to use Mithun Chakraborty in their rallies (he campaigned in battleground Nandigram also last week), Bachchan is expected to strike a chord with the women voters - who are traditionally a big source of strength for the Trinamool supremo.
The news of her arrival, however, failed to sway the state BJP leadership on Sunday, with a few of them saying that she is no match to the kind of footprint Chakraborty has in the state. However, in an election where optics are playing such a big part, it may be a smart move on part of the ruling dispensation.