Asansol (West Bengal), April 14: He left a lucrative job at a multinational bank to pursue his first love - singing. And after ruling the charts with his mesmerising voice, Babul Supriyo, who is the BJP'a Lok Sabha candidate from West Bengal's Asansol, is now determined to repay his admirers.
The Bollywood singer who has given hits like "Pari Hai Ek Pari...", "Chanda Chamke..." and "Dil Ne Dil Ko Pukara...", is harping on the core issues of unemployment, drinking water and lack of infrastructure which have been plaguing this Burdwan district industrial hub for years.
"It's really unfortunate that despite many decades of independence, Asansol still suffers from acute lack of infrastructure. I may be a novice in politics, but I am here to work for the people who have been subjected to neglect for years," Supriyo told IANS.
Eager now to make a mark in the political arena, the crooner's musical roots can be traced to his grandfather, Banikantha N.C. Baral - a famous Bengali vocalist and composer. Baral taught Supriyo the basic grammar of music.
While the 43-year old gets flooded with requests to hum his ever popular songs wherever he goes for campaigning, Supriyo is more focused on the basic issues of his constituency, though doing his bit for the music industry is also a priority.
"Music is and will always be my first love, but right now my focus is to ensure I am able to remove the grievances that the people of my constituency have for years," he told IANS.
"As regards music, the biggest threat it has is piracy, and given a chance I will endeavour for stringent laws to curb the menace," he says.
Unlike his fellow party leader and music composer Bappi Lahiri, he has not composed any special song for his campaign. Nor does he hope to bring in any Bollywood stars for canvassing.
Lahiri, contesting from Hooghly's Sreerampur, not only has composed a number dedicated to the people of his constituency but also hopes to rope in megastar Salman Khan to campaign for him.
"Unless someone has shown any affiliation or vouched for a particular leader or political party, it would be inappropriate for me to ask them to stand on a political platform with me," says Supriyo.
"I may bring some of my star friends for a big party if I win," he says, preferring to rely on his commitment and honesty to woo the voters than to use star-power.
While he considers his struggle to make a mark in Bollywood after migrating to Mumbai in 1992 as "climbing a mountain", the singer, pitted against sitting CPI-M MP Banshogopal Chowdhury and Trinamool Congress's Dola Sen, has to slog equally hard to find his feet in the political arena.
More so, because the BJP has never won the seat, and its candidate finished with even less than six percent of the votes in the previous polls five years back.
"While my popularity and stature as a singer has helped me, I would be lying if I said politics is easy," he says.
Distraught at being accused of hurting religious sentiments by entering a temple in a drunken state, Supriyo still finds a silver lining behind a "sustained campaign by my rivals to malign me".
"Such dirty politics has made politics a dirty word in India, but at the same time such smear campaign is proof that the rivals are rattled by the stupendous public response that I have been getting," says Supriyo, asserting he is a teetotaller.
The singer, who finds Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi "unfit" to be a politician, castigates the Congress for having denied party veteran and now the country's president Pranab Mukherjee, the opportunity to be the prime minister.
Crediting BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi for inspiring him to take the political plunge, Supriyo says: "The country needs a CEO like Modi who can efficiently run it. He has done wonders in Gujarat and can replicate the same for the rest of the country".
The singer is not ready to accept that his music will suffer because of his political commitments.
"Music is my soul. It will always remain my passion, my first love. No matter how busy you are, you can always find time for your beloved," says Supriyo.
He is also working on his upcoming music album 'Babul Baul', a compilation of songs of Rabindranath Tagore slated to be released during Durga Puja that begins late September.
(Anurag Dey can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)