March 26, 2014
In Conversation With… Sudip Bandyopadhyay
Sudip Bandyopadhyay was the Leader of Trinamool Congress Parliamentary Party in the 15th Lok Sabha. He is the candidate for 16th Lok Sabha polls from Kolkata Uttar Constituency. Trinamool web team had a brief chat with Sudip da during his campaign trail at his election office in Central Kolkata.
Q. Sir how would you rate yourself as an MP? What would list as your major achievements in the last five years?
Sudip Bandyopadhyay: I would give myself full marks. I can list reasons for doing so. I have attended every session of Parliament as an MP, despite all other pressing engagements. My attendance in Parliament is about 90%. I have participated in about 56 debates. All the debate is available on the Parliamentary website, as well as my own website. I took over as the leader of the Parliamentary Party in the Lok Sabha after Mamata Banerjee became the Chief Minister of West Bengal in 2011.
You can also check the data of my MPLAD fund spending on my website. I have achieved 100% utilisation of the funds allocated to me. Even as a Union Minister of State for Health, I ensured West Bengal Health Department gets more funds from the Centre. I have also represented India at the South Asian Health Ministers` Conference.
We have also raised the issues of Bengal on the floor of the Parliament in a positive manner. The Trinamool Congress Parliamentary Party has succeeded in making their stand clear on the floor of the House on every issue. Even a No Confidence Motion was moved against the Government; I moved it and Speaker had to admit it. Sadly it was not accepted because of shortage of numbers, but we made our mark. Even during the debate on Land Acquisition Bill, Trinamool was the only party in Parliament to oppose it.
Even in my own constituency, I have had regular contacts and interactions with the people. I have always made myself accessible to my voters. They are satisfied with my performance. I am deeply satisfied with my performance on the floor of the House for the last five years. I have no regrets. The only sphere where we could not succeed is that we could not convince the Government to give Bengal a financial package. This is a pending issue which we will work on after the Lok Sabha elections.
Q: How do you perceive your opposition candidates?
Sudip Bandyopadhyay: First of all I must say, some media houses are talking about heavyweight candidates in North Kolkata. I do not know what that means. One candidate has never contested any election in his life. One candidate has been defeated in the last Assembly elections by a margin of about 36000 votes. Another candidate won a few Assembly elections, but never contested any election without a pre-poll alliance.
Even the person who has been projected as the leader of Sealdah area, let me tell you, Sealdah is the smallest among the 294 Assembly Constituencies in Bengal. The anti-Trinamool votes will be divided in the four-cornered fight.
During the 15th Lok Sabha elections, people demanded we form an alliance with Congress to defeat the CPI(M). Now the situation has changed. Parde ke peeche they are all united. After my long experience of elections in Kolkata, sometimes as MLA and sometimes as MP, my assessment says there are hardly any seats in the West Bengal, except one or two, where Congress or CPI(M) or BJP have more votes than Trinamool.
Why should I believe Opposition parties have more votes in North Kolkata compared to Trinamool, when Mamata Banerjee has shown her capacity in the last Panchayat or Municipality election? In 2009, out of the 8 lakh votes polled, I received about 4 lakh votes. So the other 4 lakh votes will be divided between rest of the parties. In terms of percentage, I am confident I will win more than 60% of the votes this time.
People have seen the developmental work of the West Bengal Government. They have started believing she is a successful administrator. Despite a financial crunch, she is doing a good job. Even during my padyatras, the turnout was so high that I had to cancel them midway, or else people would have been hurt. We have got a huge support from young people.
Q: What are the USPs of your campaign? How are you using social media?
Sudip Bandyopadhyay: In an election, you have to go to the voters; that gives the best results. I have been convinced by my young friends to join social medial. Let us see how it turns out. At this age I have walked for four hours at padyatras. I have also set up my website to stay in touch with the young generation. We hope it will have a better effect in the Lok Sabha elections.
Q: What is your hunch about next Govt formation?
Sudip Bandyopadhyay: There will be no UPA 3. Congress is definitely not coming back. Mr Modi will also not become the Prime Minister, that is a foregone conclusion. The situation will be clear after the Lok Sabha elections. But, like my leader Mamata Banerjee said, Congress will not win more than 60-70 seats and the BJP will win only 150-160 seats. Let us see. One thing is certain, Trinamool Congress will emerge as the decider of the next Government. Trinamool is contesting the elections in seats outside Bengal too. Our future is bright.
Q: What would your message to the party workers?
Sudip Bandyopadhyay: Keep your head cool and your feet hot. Act as the bridge between the people and the organisation. Carry the message of the party leader to the people. Inform people about the development initiatives taken by the West Bengal Government. I am sure all party candidates will be benefited by the performance of the Chief Minister of West Bengal Ms. Mamata Banerjee.