April 1, 2011
MAMATA BANERJEE IN CONVERSATION WITH A PRIVATE TV CHANNEL
Question: Why are you so confident that your party would come in power?
Mamata Banerjee: Tell me something– where was the democracy in the last 35 years. All throughout, people of West Bengal have waited for the change which could actually change their lives. That too, for a Bengal, which could at a time boast of great souls like Rabindranath Tagore, Raja Rammohan Roy, Swami Vivekanda etc, who at a point of time showed the path to the rest of mankind, have seen to be stuck in space in the last 35 years!
Question: Your opponents have said that if you come to power and then cannot deliver, would you ask for pardon?
Mamata Banerjee: If they had said so, I would. But can you tell me, in the last 35 years, what have they done? You are a learned journalist, you should know, that there are people who had been once been accused of a gruesome murder case, today promising of Rs 2/kg of rice to the electorate who earns below Rs10,000?-. Now let me point out some facts – ANTODAYA ANNA YOJANA – a Central Government Scheme ensures that people under Rs 10,000/- per month get rice for that price, so what are they boasting off? They in fact, have destroyed the PDS system itself. For e.g. I can say – here I have documents with me – that over 33 crores of Central Government money have not been spent on South 24 Paragana district, alone.
Question: There is a saying that the present government is more 'dolotontro' than democracy. How do you see it to change that?
Mamata Banerjee: Our motto would be merit. In a democratic set up it is free to every people to support one party or other. But we believe in merit. If you say, how I would bring back the work culture in this so-called 'doltontro', I would say, the leader has to prove with his/her work to bring back the work culture. We would strive for a 'government of the people, and for the people.'
Question: You had said that if your party comes to power, you would reconsider every case against political prisoners. Does that include the Maoists too?
Mamata Banerjee: See, the case of Maoists are different, there are strict Central Government laws to deal with them, but let me tell you, we would go through each and every political case that goes back to the last 35 years or more. Let me remind you, the Hemanta Basu murder case, the Kashipur massacre, the Snaibari massacre, Singur, Nandigram, Netai ..etc would all come into review and taken care off. When they came into power in 1977, they had spoken off opening commissions to those mass murders (which were committed before 1977), but where are the results? Have they been able to bring anybody under the scanner of law and justice? NO. I must confess I'm no God or Allah, that I would be able to deal with each of them, and I can assure you, there would be actions taken against the notable ones.
Question: If you would come to power, what type of cabinet can you promise to the people?
Mamata Banerjee: If the Trinamool Congress comes to power I can assure you the cabinet will be small and not a jumbo sized one.
Question: There had been questions about Manish Gupta, who is your candidate in Jadavpur, to be involved in the July 21st massacre. How would you react to that?
Mamata Banerjee: Manish Gupta had nothing to do with July 21st shooting.
Question: You have been the Union Railways Minister for so long. After Trinamool comes to power, what would happen to the Railway projects that you initiated for Bengal?
Mamata Banerjee: I must say that, even if we come to power in the state after the ensuing Assembly elections, Trinamool Congress would keep the Railway Ministry in their own hands, and the projects would be completed within their deadline.
Question: What would be the first difference that people would see if Trinamool comes to power?
Mamata Banerjee: We would rejuvenate Bengal within six months; that’s why I plan to look after a few key ministries for a period of time, just as our Mayor Sovan Chatterjee handles the responsibility of key departments in the civic body. Apart from that, a land-use policy would be introduced. We would strive to bring in more industries and investments. A Knowledge Mission would be put in place to stop brain drain.
Question: How do you plan to bring peace to the disturbed areas like Darjeeling and Jungle Mahal and how would the new government deal with Maoists? Would the government listen to human rights organizations while dealing with them?
Mamata Banerjee: We would strive to bring peace to Darjeeling and Jungle Mahal through talks and more talks. As for the problems with Maoists I can say there would be a case-by-case verification of charges levelled against Maoists by an expert committee, not human rights organizations.
Question: What would be your stand on Bandhs, once you come into power? Would Trinamool also call Bandhs once they come into power, like the present regime?
Mamata Banerjee: No Bandhs. If someone wants to enforce Bandhs, people have the right to defy it.
Question: On the run-up to the elections, you had mentioned about forming a legislative council, or, ‘the upper house’. Why so?
Mamata Banerjee: Yes, I would like to elaborate on that. We have decided to form a legislative council to include economists such as Abhirup Sarkar, doctors, theatre personalities, scientists and people from the unorganized sectors like rickshaw-pullers, the fire department, civil defense…people from all walks of life to form a truely effective decision-making body.
Question: What are your views on the post of Speaker?
Mamata Banerjee: The Speaker of the Assembly should be neutral. That person should not hold any party post.
Question: You have fielded the present Mayor from Behala Purba constituency. If he wins, would he resign from the Mayor’s post?
Mamata Banerjee: No, he would continue to be the Mayor.
Question: Kolkata has some major problems. Of these, what are your views on the hawkers and auto-drivers?
Mamata Banerjee: Hawkers would continue to stay, but they would function within a system. As for the auto-drivers, I would also say, a specific system would be put in place. Apart from these, on the environmental front, we would like to plant a few lakh trees, for a greener Kolkata. Actually we would like to revamp Kolkata, provide better civic amenities.
Question: What changes can we expect at the Writer’s building, the citadel of power?
Mamata Banerjee: We would reintroduce the Press corner and try to introduce a conducive atmosphere at Writer’s Building.