November 24, 2011
I’ll not beg for money from the Centre, announces Ms Mamata Banerjee
The following is the transcript of the video interview of CM Ms. Mamata Banerjee answering different questions on varies issues. This was aired on CNN IBN on November 24, 2011
Sagarika Ghosh: Hi there. A very warm welcome to CNN-IBN special – ‘Question time Mamata’. Six month ago, Mamata Banerjee made history by defeating the over-two-decade-long rule of the Left front in West Bengal but today six month later, the euphoria of victory is wearing a little thin. It’s time to review Mamata Banerjee’s report card on governance and who better to do that than Chief Minister herself. Mamata Banerjee joins us live and exclusive in the CNN-IBN studios. We are delighted to have her here and on the show we are going to put questions to her about her record so far and take questions from you – the viewer. So log on to IBNLive.com, post to your questions. We will put them to the Chief Minister throughout this particular show. In fact, we have opened this question on IBNLive .com in the morning, so we have already received a flood of emails. We have also have questions from viewers sent to us from Kolkata. We will put them in our show to the Chief Minister and have her answer directly. Thank you very much indeed for joining us. It is privilege to have you here I was there when you won this stupendous victory. Now you are here. Just to kick of the show how do your feel you have done so far in these last six months of your government.
Mamata Banerjee: First let me tell you, thank you very much for remembering me and calling this interview. I love CNN-IBN and I give my best wishes to all of my colleagues also here. Within these six months, whatever was our commitment, I think we have done everything in a positive manner. And you see there are three main issues. One was that of Darjeeling to maintain peace. You will be happy to know the agreement is already over and also the elections after 15-20 years – the elected bodies the municipality election is over. And already the Mayor of Darjeeling Gorkha Council is already been announced. So I am very happy to see that tourists are going to Darjeeling. Darjeeling – the Kanchanjangha is smiling, so I am very happy for that. This is number one.
Number two there are some issues regarding Jungalmahal also that area also I can assure you that whatever we have done more than that. And all the tribal families, I declare it is a BPL families and we are giving rice to everybody there. The poor people there the first time they are getting the food and I am very happy with them and they want peace and number three is the Singur. You know there are some moments for the farmer’s moments. It was the key, it is the foundation of the farmers moments at that place. So that also government, we have passed the bill we have acquired the land and one court case is pending that’s why I cannot say into in details but whatever we committed to the people we kept all word. And instead of that within this six month though we have the problem of economy situation specially my predecessors the earlier government, they have debt of about two lakh three thousands crore. So now if I spent a one rupee the ninety four paisa have to pay to give the, to pay the debt and the salary and pensions. So only six paisa is there for the development purpose, so it is very difficult but instead of all this odds we have done a lot.
Sagarika Ghosh: So, you are saying you have kept your commitment but the viewers responses are coming thick and fast. Let me play you a response. We have got question for you from Soumyajyoti Banerjee of South Point High School. He has sent this question to us on IBNLive.com. Soumyajyoti Banerjee has written to us “How come a government that is so cash strapped announces so many inaugurations and proposals without giving any clue on the source of the money? Is this government really serious? Are we going to see another era of day-dreaming and ultimately wake up to see us at the same fag end of the tunnel? Is this the “poribartan” that we had asked for?” That is Soumyajyoti Banerjee and a young lady from Kolkata also has a question about “How Mamata Banerjee is going to create opportunities for the young?” Let listen to the young lady from Kolkata.
Viewer from Kolkata: In the present perspective of your land policy, where you said that you will not acquire the land for the industry. How do you propose to woo investors? For young educated people likes us, what job opportunities are you creating?
Sagarika Ghosh: Do you sometimes see that the expectations were too high?
Mamata Banerjee: Yes that expectation is high that I appreciate because I love. If there is no expectations than though how should run the, even for your channel the higher expectation is there. Everybody wants that, expectation is needed in our country. Number one they asked about the, how about the, why we are inaugurating the project. Let me tell you something, without the financial clearance and what about the money is with us for the development only that project is there. We are not doing anything wrong which may not suit to our economy situation, number one.
Number two, to give the people to food I don’t think this is the luxurious thing. What we have done we have done according to our financial normalcy and the situation. Number two regarding the land acquisition it is our policy. It is not that we are saying today, in our manifest also we announced that same thing. Now I fought also and went to twenty six days hunger strike especially for this farmers’ moment and all these. And we have already finalized our land policy. There we have mentioned categorically that no forcefully acquisition of land but we have the land map with us, land map is with us already. You will be happy to know more than fifty six thousands crore investment already it is been given to West Bengal. Number two within this six months I created from government itself more than 2.5 lakh jobs and also this 50,000-60,000 crore the announcement for the investment. I think within this two three years we can create more than ten lakh jobs from the IT industry from the food industry, from the agriculture industry..
Sagarika Ghosh: But don’t you feel that the case you are fighting with the Tatas has sent a wrong signal to the industry?
Mamata Banerjee: No, I don’t think so that’s different question that is absolutely wrong. Nobody supporting him for this case. It is the case that is pending so I don’t want to say anything. They have said so many things against of me but I don’t think it is proper. Let them fight it is there democratic rights, it is there legal right they can fight, let the court decide. I am not arguing for that and I am not going to create another controversy for that.
I have received proposals. Within this one thousand acre of land Singur, even I have received the proposal from Real also to set up a factory there and four hundreds acres we will return back to the farmers whatever we have fought for. And it is the farmers and farmers they are not taking money they will get it. So it is doesn’t meant that only one piece of land will destroy the situation. I don’t believe it. I believe in that why the industrialist are very happy. Within this time let me tell you Jindals project clear. Within this time the TVS is already they are investing the money. The SAIL have their expansion programme of more than Rs 20,000 crore..
Sagarika Ghosh: But aren’t these investment came during the left front rule and the fresh investment are coming during your rule?
Mamata Banerjee: No, No nothing was there it was totally closed. It was stopped.
Sagarika Ghosh: The criticism against you, is that you know, you are pursuing the politics of “Tara Huro”. You know you are setting to many deadlines as they say in Bengali. You know in one week you solve the Maoist problem, by one week you solve the Jungalmahal problem. One week you solve the Gorkha Land problem, you solve the Singur problem. Are you setting too many deadlines? Are you in too much of hurry? Because lot of these issues, lot of these problems require time and require you to put in a system?
Mamata Banerjee: First let me tell you if there is no deadline every development process will be dead. They will die; there must be some deadline and some targets also because even in your channel if you prepare the plan you have to give some deadline also.
9:30 is your prime time, afternoon you have the sports time, you have the deadline also for that. Like this I am telling you, the deadline why there won’t be any deadline but that is not the fact for that anybody is suffering. We have deadlines that why we are working. Thirty five years, totally the work culture destroyed. Now lets us..
Sagarika Ghosh: You need to have the deadline?
Mamata Banerjee: Yes.
Sagarika Ghosh: But, but you know your former friends and allies are now becoming critical of you. Your friend Mahashweta Devi has become a critic. She has called you a fascist for not permitting her rally, which you said that rally was the Maoist but she has called you a fascist.
Mamata Banerjee: She can, it is her democratic right. I have respect for her. I am not saying anything she is an aged lady and I respect her age. But I cannot support the Maoists. There are some people from Kolkata, it is everybody knows from Kolkata. They are behind the moment and all they are supporting.
Sagarika Ghosh: Why don’t you give the permission for the rally?
Mamata Banerjee: No, no they have got the permission for rally that is wrong I am telling you. That is I am telling you absolutely wrong.
Sagarika Ghosh: But that place that particular place they wanted to have it, you didn’t allow, you didn’t give permission.
Mamata Banerjee: That is I am telling you is absolutely wrong, misleading distorting..
Sagarika Ghosh: Ok.
Mamata Banerjee: Ok that why I said that day only. You see some time if your go to purchase a ticket from cinema hall. Some cinema hall may be overbooked. Maybe one day you will not get a ticket, then you search another cinema hall. That is a system. If we want to go to book a club for some marriage ceremony or some ceremony, all houses are not available.
You do the thing according to your choice. Where a small organisation, that is a small organisation where only 10-12 people are in the organisation, There is nothing in the organisation. They have four groups. They asked the police, they said yes. First-com-first-serve, you have already done three programmes there…
Sagarika Ghosh: So it was purely logistical. But it raises questions about your Maoist policy at the moment.
Mamata Banerjee: No, no. Let me finish. Just one minute. The police then offered them three places. We have four-five places for public meetings. They said this place is booked, you go to another place. This is wrong, distorted and misinformed. We don’t do it.
Sagarika Ghosh: Okay let’s come to your policy on the Maoists and your relationship with the Maoists, which is agitating a number of our viewers. Sreenivasan Sundaram is telling us on IBNLive.com that “She should know that her street fighter image won’t work, when it is her responsibility to govern the state democratically with efficiency and transparency. She should go for developmental programmes in Jungalmahal which will pave the way for reconciliation with Maoists. And Sayon Roy, he has also asked on IBNLive.com and this is an interesting question. Before the election we have seen you with the people who are Maoist sympathizer and you have fought against the Left Front government for the rights of the Maoists, but what are you doing now? First you said Left was behind Gyaneshwari train sabotage and now you are saying the Maoists are responsible for it. Did you say all these because of political gains?
Secondly, you are not allowing any peaceful movement in your state.. Is this not fascism? You have done a 180 degree turn on your stand on Maoists.
The question is: are you willing to admit you have flipped-flopped on the Maoists? First you supported them. You said should have dialogue with them. Now you are pushing-in forces..
Mamata Banerjee: I have never supported them. No. This is wrong. In a democratic country. Bengal has 10 crore people, only 1-2 people can prepare some questions. I don’t mind for that. I am ready to give all the replies because their information is wrong. I never joined the Maoist movement. This was the gossip of CPM, number one.
Number two, the CPM people are totally with the Maoists. What I said earlier also. In the daytime, they are Marxists and night-time they are Maoists. And that is true. And Gyaneshwari Express, what I said on that day. “Yes my apprehension is now also. If I say so, prime facie evidence… The investigation is going on. The CBI will file a charge sheet. They have submitted a charge sheet. According to charge sheet, it is proved the Maoists are behind the game but please realize that the court case is pending. So, my apprehension is that other people are also involved in it. How do we do this, when the court case will start then lawyer, common people can join the court case. They can ask, they can peep in the court to see if there is some other people behind it. But how do I prove it until and unless…because I have the advantage of in the court…….
Sagarika Ghosh: but you were an opposition leader, you wanted a dialogue with the Maoists. You said you would like to interact with them.
Mamata Banerjee: now also…
Sagarika Ghosh: Now you are supporting a ramped-up force against the Maoists, you are sending the troops…Mamata Banerjee: Do you think the Maoists will kill, I will give them the lollypop or I will give them the rasgulla, do you think, who are killing the people, do you think it is proper. You are people are fighting against Maoists, you people are everyday…., I have seen that you never supported the Maoists, why you are supporting the Maoists. You tell me Sagarika, I am telling you one thing, just let me tell you yes it was our commitment that we will go for negotiation, because in a democratic set-up, this is the way. In Bengal there was no democracy. We restored the democracy, please realize. Go to the people and ask. But if you ask me, about the Maoist, at one side they will take the rifles, they will kill the people and on the other side, in the name of Maoist some organization will kill the people, that I cannot..
Sagarika Ghosh – Are you saying that your policy has failed?
Ms. Mamata Banerjee- Our policy is totally right.
Sagarika Ghosh – But the Maoists are regrouping, threats are emerging again.
Ms. Mamata Banerjee- That`s not right. Maoists are divided now. I have respect for any `ism, if you ask me individually, I respect all the ism. I have no problem for them. Maoists may have some ideology, I do not defer with them. I believe in the ism of Gandhi, Netaji or Rabindra-Najrul , they may believe dictatorship, I have no problem in that. I said, negotiation for peace. I said negotiation will continue for progress.
Sagarika Ghosh -Why are you supporting more forces against the Maoists?
Ms. Mamata Banerjee- Do you think the law and order situation, Maoists will kill the people and police will just laugh. Is it not the duty of the government to take care of the public, when they are killing one after another? Within last 5 months they killed so many Trinamool Congress workers, poor villagers. SO I cannot allow any terrorist group to kill the people. I have not sent any police force. The Law will take its own course. It is administrative measure. It is the duty of the administration to see that law is restored and there is peace.
Sagarika Ghosh – So are you still in negotiation, but unless the violence stops, will you continue sending more troops?
Ms. Mamata Banerjee- I am not sending any troops. It is the Law and order situation. It is the duty of the police to take care that they want to see that public should stay in peace.
Sagarika Ghosh – Let’s talk about your relationship Delhi now. You have come to Delhi and you have voiced on many occasions that you need a Bengal bail-out package.
Ms. Mamata Banerjee- No, I have not said.
Sagarika Ghosh – You want a package.
Ms. Mamata Banerjee- No. I don`t want a package, it is a conspiracy and a propaganda made by some people and it is a noise and a voice pollution. It is made up by some people. This is not that we are begging anything from anyone. You, tell me, we are just in government for 6 months. It is not our problem. It is not that we have done any thing wrong. Why the Central Govt. allowed them (Left) to take a debt of 2 Lakh 3 Thousand Crores? The CPM Govt. What can we do? Our hands are tied.
Sagarika Ghosh – So you need a rescue package.
Ms. Mamata Banerjee- I don’t need the package. I need the 15 thousand crore that I haven’t been paid. Otherwise, from where will be the development money coming? From where we will give the drinking water to the people, electricity to the people, the rice to the poor people, tribal people, you tell me. We are facing the legacy (of Left Govt.). It is not our fault. They (Center) should understand.. Within 6 months we have recorded a growth of about 21%.
Sagarika Ghosh – But, the difficulty while asking for a package …
Ms. Mamata Banerjee- I never go for begging
Sagarika Ghosh – Why not set up an environment within the state so that industries come in…
Ms. Mamata Banerjee- I agree to you. I am telling you this is absolutely wrong. . You people are sitting Delhi and do not know the exact case. Industrialists are coming like anything, and that is why 56 Thousand Crores of investment has already been proposed. And it is already in process. Earlier there were 99 pages which has been reduced to 7 pages by our govt. Earlier 372 days were needed to for industrial clearance but now it is 15 days . We started e-tendering and e-procurement. Our govt. is doing very good. We are creating the infrastructure for industries.
Ms. Mamata Banerjee- The central govt. is asking for a roadmap for revenue generation.
We want to do the infrastructural work, But who will pay the debt. Ask central Govt. before they give advice. Tell them. They had given them the loan. The earlier govt. took loan from public consumption. Now, how do I pay 15 Thousand Crore of debt. Even if I set up the industry also. If they invest also. That is another area. I have to pay the debt. Because the(past) govt. has taken the loan from public exchequer.
Sagarika Ghosh Is the UPA being unfair to you?
I am not saying that. I cannot satisfy you.
Sagarika Ghosh – Should Pranab Mukherjee, being from West Bengal, Be much more cooperative wit WB?
Ms. Mamata Banerjee- I do not want to comment anything. Only I want to tell you that we are working towards growth, management, backward area development, everything we are doing. We are just six months in to the Govt., but who were in the govt. for 35 years and who were in the govt. for 60 years after independence? They cannot ask all these questions. In whatever way we can, we are trying to earn revenue that is our process. If we don’t, tell us. We said that within this year we will earn about 30% of the revenue. But they can not tell me that a random target. Where will I get the money to pay? These two issues are different. You cannot compare potato with potato chips.
Sagarika Ghosh – Do you feel that the UPA has let you down, do you feel that UPA has taken you for granted?
Ms. Mamata Banerjee- You see, we are a regional party, a new born party, not a national party or an international party, What I want to say, it is natural relation. I do not want to comment anything on it.
Sagarika Ghosh – Do you feel that UPA has failed to check price rise?
Ms. Mamata Banerjee- Though it is an alliance govt., Sharad Pawarji’s party, DMK, Trinamool Congress etc are supporting the alliance. Congress is the majority party. So, it is their decision. Whatever they can decide. We have only one cabinet minister. Whenever an issue comes up, then according to our information, we mix with the people, we raise our voice as a pro-people party.
Sagarika Ghosh – But you took a strong stand on fuel price and decided to pull out…
Ms. Mamata Banerjee- Strong stand because within 12 months fuel price was increased 11 times. The petrol price, the diesel prices the lpg price. I was told the price of domestic gas can go up to about Rs 900, pending with the GoE. Then I thought, if the people will purchase domestic gas with Rs 900, where they will get the food? It is very difficult, so I thought, enough is enough. If the petrol price is hiked, some people will be affected, but if the diesel and domestic gas price is hiked, it will hit the kitchen.
Sagarika Ghosh – And you think that UPA has really failed to tackle the inflation…
Ms. Mamata Banerjee- I am not an economist and I do not understand finance well. I am not a technical expert too. So I cannot comment on this. What I fell is that we should take care of the people. I am concerned about the people because of the price hike.
Sagarika Ghosh – Did you threaten to pull out?
Ms. Mamata Banerjee- I did not threaten. I am saying, the govt. should take care of the people, the democracy, the aam insaan. Saying aam insaan is not enough if you do not deliver the good for them, do the good for the aam insaan or the common people. We will fight the battle on behalf of the common people always.
Sagarika Ghosh – If the UPA does not check the prices , you will issue some sort of ultimatum? Will you stay in the govt.?
Ms. Mamata Banerjee- I do not say it is ultimatum or threat. You media people use these language. If we are in the govt, as allies, we must raise our views. This is not threat or blackmailing. You have to raise your voices somewhere, you have to impose your views somewhere. There has been so many price hikes but only once price was reduced, thank God. Once only. So there is a provision. So Govt. must take care of the people and start some mechanism so that people should not suffer.
Sagarika Ghosh – Should there be an UPA coordination Committee with allies?
Ms. Mamata Banerjee- It is not there, so it would look nice if I express my views there. Let them decide, they are the national party, we are a small party…. One thing, we have one cabinet minister, they have more than 35 cabinet ministers. If one cabinet minister raises voice, he is told that we are in minority, we face that problem too. I am not hurt. I am with this govt. till now. I cannot say anything wrong, that might hurt the Govt..
Sagarika Ghosh – Govt. will start FDI in retail. Do you support?
Ms. Mamata Banerjee- We do not support this. Pension also. Reforms are different things. We will express our views when details will come to us. One employee, the money he kept for pension- that should be spoilt. We have to get more support to our farmers. We are not being able to pay our jute farmers the price. First it is to be ensured that the farmers get the minimum price, then comes FDI. The state Govt. is giving Rs 100 subsidy to the jute farmers, I raised my voice so many times. First you protect the farmers, see that nobody commits suicide. I have no problems if my farmers are safe. If I cannot give security to my farmers, I cannot snatch their bread and butter.
Sagarika Ghosh – What is your relation with the Congress at the moment after Jayram Ramesh statement?
Ms. Mamata Banerjee- I do not think congress is very important party there. Because of us, they have got so many of seats there. I have good relations with all the Ministers and national leaders. I do not have any problems.
Sagarika Ghosh – Regarding, Mausum Noor Rally … Congress is trying to sabotage you from within?
Ms. Mamata Banerjee- It was a rally of around 1000 people compared to our rallies where more than 5-10 lakh people takes part. Fair things in
What do you mean by sabotage, their capacity is very low there. In Center, they can do, but not in the State, it is the CPM Harmads who are with them.
Sagarika Ghosh – Change the name of the state to Paschimbanga, why? And are you a one-woman govt, your ministers do not speak?
Ms. Mamata Banerjee- Paschimbanga already exists. It is nothing new. All the political parties, unanimously decided at the Assembly.
There is a 40 member cabinet. It is the discretion of the Ministers` whether they will speak or not. They speak in their respective areas. You being in Delhi may not be aware of this. Is Sonia Gandhi’s part so? How many days you mention Pranab Mukherjee’s name, or that of Chidambaram or Anthony? All you mention is that of Soniaji and rahul. Why only Jayalalithas and that of Mayawati’s name are mentioned by you? Answer me this first. Everywhere, there is a leader.
Sagarika Ghosh – You do not welcome dissent…
Ms. Mamata Banerjee- At national level why do you always critisize Bengal, You do not do that with Jayalalitha or Mayavati or Soniyaji. As a Railway Minister, I have seen how I was criticized. You do not have the guts. It is just because we come from simple families? I am proud of my party. They are for common people. They are for poor people. We are transparent, sincere and honest. We are committed to the people.
Sagarika Ghosh – Infant deaths, how to turnaround
Ms. Mamata Banerjee- Within six months what do you expect to change? Why did you not talk about last 35 years? Whose responsibility is it? It is very easy to see the papers and ask the questions, not seeing at the grass root level. Child death rate – Maharashtra is No 1, Tamil Nadu is at No. 2, Kerala is at No. 3 and Bengal is at No. 4. We are trying to decrease it. It is because of undernourishment. Undernourished pregnant mothers. In our state, there are 30% Muslims and poor people. The death is due to undernourishment and mal nutrition, not the health system. In Maldah, where the population is largely Muslim, I came across a data, which says 8000 of the babies are born at home. Now they are coming to the hospital. Do you know why? I have arranged cars for pregnant mothers to visit hospitals for check up and also with their babies. We have set up an expert committee too.
Sagarika Ghosh – What happened at Bhowanipur?
Ms. Mamata Banerjee- Times Now distorted facts. I will go for defamation. I challenge. I secured the life Hindus and Muslims. There was the Jagaddhatri puja immersion and the next day was Bakr Eid. You should not accuse me before seeing details. I have not released any person. Police beat women and children. RSS started a rally against Bakr Eid. I maintained communal harmony. Some people are sitting in Delhi and distorting facts since I cannot give them money or business. I know the conspiracy. Being the CM or the Home Minister why do I need to go to a police station to release somebody? Throughout my life I will stand for communal harmony and stand by my Muslim brothers and sisters. It is my duty.
Sagarika Ghosh – Why are some Trinamool leaders not bringing out a change even after Parivartan? What are they waiting for?
Ms. Mamata Banerjee- For change we want good governance. We have already restored democracy and peace in the past six months. I will say Darjeeling is smiling. I will say, Jangalamahal is also smiling. Singur is also smiling. We want to create the infrastructure and the industry as well as agriculture. For the first time the Kolkata Film Festival was so successful. Kolkata is the cultural capital of India. We will try to do that.