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September 19, 2014

An open letter by Mahashweta Devi

An open letter by Mahashweta Devi

I saw that there has been a lot of talk on some television channelsabout a personal letter I had sent to the chief minister. Let me admit in thebeginning itself – yes, I am sympathetic to her. In that context, I had writtenher a letter, addressed only to her, where I had asked her to 'ensure that sheperforms her political duties properly.' 

My question is, was that the onlywords I had written in the letter? Secondly, it was a personal letter. So howdid it reach the media? The person gave the letter out has breached my trust,as I had never told that person to hand the letter over to the media. Seeingall this, I think it would have been better to listen to Joy (Joy Goswami). I'm becoming tooemotional these days.

Anyway, I think age is catching up with my memory. I don't rememberfully, but as far as I do, I had written to her something like 'you should goon following your political duties properly; stay well, don't get tensed up,' amongother things. Actually what led me to write this letter is the fact that I hadseen her a few days back on television, when she did not look her usual bubbly self. It lookedlike she had a lot on her mind. I am saying this from 90 years of experience.

Hence, I had written this letter out of sympathy for her. I am sure ifMamata's mother had been alive, she would have become concerned in the sameway. Otherwise, I haven't lost my mind that I would be thinking that I have thecapacity to instruct a chief minister on her duties. I strongly feel that thelong years she has put into serving the people, makes her much more capablethan myself to understand her political duties.

What I want to say to the media is that whatever I have written in that letteris far above politics. Those were purely personal thoughts and bring out that wonderfulrelationship that we have. I always respect such relationships. Those who breachedmy privacy by disclosing the contents of the letter to the media did anunthinkable crime. Should I think that the person is working as a broker forsome opposing political parties? I do not know why this feeling is coming to mymind.

I feel that that all the journalists in Kolkata are younger to me. Ihave love as well as respect for them. What I would say to them is that there aresome private moments in everybody's lives. Do not destroy them. That will leadto a loss of trust. I have been a practitioner of activist journalism for many years,from which experience I have acquired the independent ethical sense ofjournalism. So if I had felt that the letter needed to be given to the media, Iwould have done so myself.

Let me end this in a direct manner. I have full confidence in Mamata. Forthe last 34 years West Bengal was pushed to the brink of anarchy. Mamata becamethe chief minister through her own calibre and honesty. I believe she will besuccessful. What I hear from rural Bengal is that Mamata is implementing thegovernment projects with honesty.

I believe, if there was some other party that had come to power insteadof Mamata's, it would also have been under much stress. I believe that beforethis government came into being three and a half years earlier, there had been hugeamounts of problems, accumulated during a period of 34 years. It is not an easytask to solve them. In those 34 years, that government had turned this state intohell.