Veteran actor Shatrughan Sinha surges ahead for TMC in Asansol

The 77-year-old former BJP leader, who joined Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool ahead of the 2024 elections, seems to be giving the ruling party an edge in this crucial industrial hub once considered a Left bastion.

In a significant development in West Bengal, veteran Bollywood actor and recent political entrant Shatrughan Sinha is leading the poll trends from the Asansol Lok Sabha constituency on a Trinamool Congress (TMC) ticket.

The 77-year-old former BJP leader, who joined Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool ahead of the 2024 elections, seems to be giving the ruling party an edge in this crucial industrial hub once considered a Left bastion.

With around 40% of the votes counted so far, Sinha has established a comfortable lead of over 25,000 votes against his nearest rival from the BJP. The Communist Party of India, which held Asansol for decades, is trailing at a distant third position.

Sinha’s political journey has been a winding one. A two-term BJP MP from Bihar’s Patna Sahib, he was expelled from the party in 2019 for rebelling against its leadership. He then joined the Congress briefly before switching allegiances to the TMC last year.

Sinha banked heavily on his cinematic charisma and pro-poor image to woo voters in this industrial town dominated by coal miners and factory workers.

If Sinha holds on to his lead, it would mark an incredible second innings in national politics for the former Union minister. His win would also be a shot in the arm for Mamata Banerjee, who is fighting to reclaim ground after a below-par performance by the TMC in the 2024 polls so far.

The Asansol contest took an ugly turn in the final phase with allegations of violence and intimidation between TMC and BJP workers. The Election Commission was forced to deploy additional paramilitary forces to bring the situation under control.

As the sands of time keep shifting in this gripping electoral battle, Shatrughan Sinha has proven to be malleable and enduring, displaying his ability to repackage and reinvent himself time and again over six decades in public life.