Bhojpuri singer Pawan Singh, who was announced as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s candidate for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections from West Bengal’s Asansol constituency, said on Sunday that he will not be contesting the polls.

The BJP on Saturday released its first list of 195 candidates for the Lok Sabha elections, of which candidates were announced for 20 of West Bengal’s 42 Lok Sabha seats.

“I express my heartfelt gratitude to the top leadership of Bharatiya Janata Party,” Singh said in a post on social media platform X. “The party trusted me and declared me as the candidate from Asansol but due to some reason I will not be able to contest the elections from Asansol.”

Singh, who hails from Arrah in Bihar’s Bhojpur district, did not elaborate on the reason in question. However, his announcement came after leaders of West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress party criticised his songs and music videos for being derogatory towards women in the state.

Trinamool Congress’ Lok Sabha MP Abhishek Banerjee on Sunday attributed Singh’s decision to withdraw from the parliamentary election as a result of the “indomitable spirit and power of the people of West Bengal”.

On Sunday, Trinamool Congress MP Saket Gokhale had described the BJP’s decision to field Singh from Asansol as “sickening and reprehensible”.

“He [Prime Minister Narendra Modi] has been paying lip service to “Nari Shakti” [women’s empowerment] as part of his 2024 election campaign to hoodwink women around the country,” Gokhale said in a post on X. “Truth is Modi and BJP have rewarded [Singh] mainly for his vulgar and misogynist videos targeting the women of Bengal.”

BJP leader Amit Malviya had earlier defended his party’s decision to field Singh amid such criticism, saying that the Trinamool Congress should “respect those who work for a living”.

“It is rich to see TMC [Trinamool Congress] leaders denigrate a popular Bhojpuri artist for his body of work, when half of them have concubines or second wives, half their age, in some cases younger than their daughter from the first wife,” Malviya said in a post on X.

The Trinamool Congress is yet to announce its candidate from Asansol, which is currently represented by party leader and former actor Shatrughan Sinha. In the Lok Sabha elections of 2014 and 2019, singer Babul Supriyo won the Asansol seat on a BJP ticket, defeating the Trinamool Congress' Moon Moon Sen.

Supriyo resigned from the seat two years later and switched sides to the Trinamool Congress. In 2022, Sinha was elected from Asansol in a resulting bye-poll.