February 19, 2011
Mamata Banerjee and her team win The Telegraph National Debate
Kolkata, 18 Jan: She was not in her usual field, but our charismatic leader, Ms Mamata Banerjee conquered one and all in tonightâ€™s â€˜The Telegraph National Debateâ€™. The motion for the debate was â€œIn the opinion of the house, India will be better run if politicians are left out of the governmentâ€. It was the kind of motion that could swing either way, as in it could easily degenerate into a deadly dull exchange of banalities or it could be a platform for some pretty interesting stuff. Speakers for the motion were: Suhel Seth, Rahul Dravid, Dipankar Gupta and Swapan Dasgupta. Speaking against were: Ram Guha, Jay Panda, Salman Khurshid and Mamata Banerjee. Reaching out to an audience different from the core constituency of her party, Mamata spoke of planned development and underscored how she had been shunning disruptive politics. â€œWe are not calling any bandhs for the last two years. Only one political party is calling bandhs in the state,â€ said Mamata, rising to the defence of the image of both her party and her state. With her strong dismissal of her partyâ€™s involvement in disruption and stress on vision, planning and proper implementation to deliver development, Mamata indicated that she was preparing herself for the role that many expect will be hers after the Assembly polls. Fellow cabinet minister Salman Khurshid left no one in doubt what that role might be, making a mention of â€œchief minister-in-waitingâ€ and drawing a round of applause and a hint of a smile that crossed Mamataâ€™s face. Mamata had given her verdict on the ill-fated motion â€” â€œIndia will be better run if politicians are left out of the governmentâ€ â€” even before it was put to vote with a statement that encapsulated the message she was trying to get across. â€œThe motion is defeated because your approach is negative. Think positively,â€ the railway minister said, before reeling off what she had done for the state in the â€œone year and seven-eight monthsâ€ she had been in the government. â€œI have given 16 industries in Bengal quietly. Do the job quietly, sincerely,â€ Mamata said. She, however, did not restrict herself to mere celebration of what she had achieved as a minister. Going with the flow of the debate â€” during which politicians came under attack for involvement in scams and failure to deliver development â€” she explained her vision about governance. â€œWithout planning, without plan of action, there can be no reaction. Good governance means development, concentration, dedication and devotion,â€ said Mamata. â€œI want to see a pollution-free political environment. The politicians may not be from Harvard or Cambridge, they should be from the grassroots,â€ said Mamata, stealing a glance at the Oxbridge brigade on the dais. After making mincemeat of that group, Mamata turned to corruption â€” something the defenders of the motion had repeatedly cited to deride politicians â€” and cricket. With Rahul Dravid on the other side, Mamata switched to a mix of English and Bengali and broached the uncomfortable issue of betting in cricket. â€œCricket-e betting nei (Isnâ€™t betting on in cricket)? Batting and betting, everything is there. Are all players bad? I can never say so,â€ she said while explaining that corruption among a handful of politicians was giving a bad name to politicians in general. While she asked people to dump bad politicians, she also launched an attack on another breed â€” goody-goody politicians or shadow politicians They will speak against politics but will not take the risk of joiningâ€¦. Goody-goody politicians try to control government from the backside but they will not come to the front,â€ she said, igniting guffaws. â€œThe country needs good leaders to lead the people,â€ summed up Mamata.