Actor Mithun Chakraborty, who joined the BJP on Sunday, said he does not fancy the title of a “leader”, cannot reveal whether he will become Chief Minister, but can promise that if the party comes to power in West Bengal, “everything will be turned on its head in six months”.
“I am not a leader. Don’t call me a BJP leader. I don’t have the qualities to be a leader. I only say I have a leader, I have spoken to him,” he told NDTV, referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at whose rally in Kolkata the 70-year-old joined the BJP, ending days and weeks of speculation.
“He has been very open to me. Prime Minister was with me for 15 minutes. And he told me, ‘Yeh sarkar sabki sarkar hogi‘. That means we are going to judge everybody the same way,” Mr Chakraborty said.
Firmly refusing to hazard a guess about his role if the BJP comes to power, he said, “I am definitely now campaigning. Prime Minister told me to start on the 12th. And next, wait and see. I am a man of protocol. I have got leaders, we must respect them.”
Asked about his thoughts on the state of Bengal, he said, “It’s in a mess now. Bengal was an example for everyone. Today, I feel it’s not there. Somewhere, we have gone haywire. And we must come together to see that we get back those things. And for that, we need a change. A real change. Change for the people.”
So what exactly does he want to change? “Everything,” the actor said, employing a Bengali expression to add, “Everything will be turned on its head in six months.”
However, in an election campaign defined by coarse language and shrillness, Mr Chakraborty refused to take shots at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
“I am sorry. I am not here to… I have never done it in my life. I never speak bad, I will never speak bad. I will not criticise. That you cannot take from me,” he said, when asked about his message for her.
The actor also explained his past allegiances, with the Left and then Ms Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and even the Congress at times.
“I am not blaming anyone. I think my decision was not right. I was a fan of Jyoti Basu because he always (worked) for the people. I have campaigned for Pranab Mukherjee. I have campaigned for Vilasrao Deshmukh. But I have never been political. That’s why I say, ‘Don’t put me in a jar’,” he said.
One of Bengal’s most beloved actors, Mithun Chakraborty was sent to the Rajya Sabha by the Trinamool in 2014 but quit the party within two years after he was named in the Saradha chit fund case, pleading poor health.
There had been speculation the actor may join BJP and become its face for Chief Minister in the Bengal Assembly election starting later this month ever since Mohan Bhagwat, chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh – the BJP’s ideological mentor – visited him at his bungalow in Mumbai on 16 February.
Whether he is or not, the actor is among the important faces the BJP will pitch in its campaign to oust Mamata Banerjee in Bengal.