“Babul Supriyo looks me straight in the eye and says he’s gonna get me beaten up very badly,” says Navamita Chandra, a film studies student at Jadavpur University (JU). She was recalling the horror that the prestigious institution witnessed on September 19 during the visit of the Union minister, who faced a strong opposition from a section of students of the university.
A two-time Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Asansol and a minister in the Narendra Modi cabinet, Babul Supriyo has faced a plethora of protests and opposition during his visits in both Asansol and Kolkata. And his responses have not failed to stir controversies.
On September 19, the minister had visited the prestigious Jadavpur University to attend an event organised by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the RSS. His visit triggered widespread opposition from a section of students who raised slogans and staged a demonstration.
While there were allegations by the singer-turned-politician that he was heckled, pushed and pulled by his hair, the protesters accuse him of ‘slut-shaming’ girls, assaulting students and misbehaving with the vice-chancellor.
“He harassed and slut shamed students. He got the students beaten up by his security guards who were carrying guns inside the campus. He himself assaulted some students as well,” recalls Navamita. “He told girls not to wear shorts and character-assassinated them. He also threatened the university guards that they will be fired as they were trying to stop him from assaulting the students,” she adds.
Backing her allegation, Debraj Koley, another student of the university, says that the minister was taunting the students when they gheraoed him and even commented on the clothes worn by some of the girl students.
“He also misbehaved with the vice-chancellor. He blamed him for the unrest in the campus and asked him why he wasn’t present at the gate to receive him. He even asked him to get him water,” adds Koley.
Besides, the Union minister was also seen in a video telling the vice-chancellor, “I’m sure you’re a Leftist.”
Justifying the minister calling the vice-chancellor a Leftist, a BJYM leader says there is nothing wrong in that. “The MP was caught in the middle of a mob and the vice-chancellor did absolutely nothing to save him. He was acting like one of the protesters,” says Aroon Shah, state secretary of BJYM.
He also questioned the credibility of the allegations raised by the protesting students, “Where is the photo or video evidence that Babul Supriyo assaulted students?”
However, this isn’t the first time the Asansol MP has found himself in the midst of a controversy. In the past, his statements in public and response to his opposition have courted widespread media attention, besides raising eyebrows in the opposition camps.
In March 2018, Supriyo was booked for allegedly misbehaving with the police in Asansol after he was stopped from visiting a spot where a clash had broken out a few days ago.
The police had filed two separate FIRs against Supriyo for misbehaving with a police officer, stopping the cops from discharging their duties and for violating prohibitory orders.
During the visit, the minister stirred a controversy after he told ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers that he will skin them alive. He told them “chamra gutiye debo ekdom (Will skin you right away)” after they allegedly tried to threaten the victims of the violence.
Again, in September 2018, he had threatened to break a man’s leg while donating wheelchairs at an event for disability. As per reports, he was miffed at someone for allegedly “moving and distracting”, and therefore he said, “I can break one of your legs and give you a crutch.” He later accepted that his comment was a “dark humour” and a “political mistake. Quite an ironic statement from a minister at an event for the disabled.
Earlier, in 2017, the then TMC MLA Mahua Moitra, now an MP, had accused Supriyo of insulting her modesty during a debate on a national television. During the last few seconds of the show, the BJP leader reportedly had asked Moitra, “Mahua, are you on mohua?” ‘Mohua’ refers to an alcoholic drink available in tribal areas.