March 30, 2011
Mamata Banerjee’s first interview since Trinamool Congress manifesto and candidates were announced.
QUESTION : The CPI M can be defeated—how did you give the people of Bengal the belief that this belief ?
MAMATA BANERJEE :There was an impression created that the Communist would remain in Bengal forever. People expressed themselves in 2001 and 2006,but the verdict did not reflect the hopes and aspirations of the people. The Communists had taken the people and democracy for granted. From forceful rigging to scientific rigging…they have done it all.It took us a while to learn more about EVMs and nowadays we check every machine.The CPI M would scare people. Wives were threatened if their husbands did not comply. Mothers were threatened if their sons did not comply. I know of a story of a young boy was hanged upside down from a tree and a raw fish was stuffed in his mouth to suffocate him. Women in the villages of Bengal are scared o use open toilet in the fields…look how Tapasi Malik was raped in Singur.From Singur to Nandigram,Coochbehar,Howrah,Nanoor,Chinsurah,Mogra,Shantipur,Darjeeling,Satgachia, Chhota Anaria,Memari,Mangalkot,Netai,Keshpur Nanoor…the tyranny and horror has reached every district in Bengal.This is a horror story. We need to give people the confidence to exist in a democracy.
QUESTION: A lot of this has been your personal struggle…talks us through that.
MAMATA BANERJEE : The world knows the CPI M tried to kill me some years back in Hazra.They have tried on several occasions. Finishing me off was the simplest way out for them. On a dark night in Singur they put the lights off and beat me up and I was lucky to survive.Yes,I have faced death on many occasions. But as I look back the biggest risk I took was the hunger strike which lasted for 26 days. I could have died. There was a job to be done; the hunger strike was the final frontier. People had to know thereafter that the choice had to be made: the choice between right and wrong. Frankly, only a handful of people in the media supported us in 2006. Very few. We stood by our convictions. At these moments I was often guided by the words of Swami Vivekeananda:"Strength is my life/Weakness is my death".In difficult times his words inspired me and us : "At my will, I will drink the ocean" Finally people said `enough is enough`. People are now ready to stand up with conviction. We have removed the word fear from the people of Bengal.
QUESTION: Your critics say Mamata Banerjee has hijacked the agenda of the left. How would respond to this?
MAMATA BANERJEE: I do not believe in hijacking anybody`s agenda—least of all the left`s agenda. Their agenda has been one of murder, hatred, rape and loot. Our works speaks for itself. For example in 1992, when I was the Union Sports Minister, there was a group of people who came with a resolution to my office shouting slogans against me. I came down, meet them and assured them that their resolution had already being taken care off. The same people who were shouting `murdabad` while coming in, while going back, they started shouting `jindabad`. I have worked in many ministries, Sports/Coal/Youth/Rail…… I believe I know how to get work done. I have made it possible that the Railway Workers and Unions are part of the decision making process. In one and half years a lot of good work has been done in the Indian Railways.
QUESTION: You have recently said that the Trinamool Congress will get a two-thirds majority in ensuing Assembly polls… from where did you get the confidence?
MAMATA BANERJEE: I know every road, every district, and every town in Bengal. While travelling, I never sleep in the car, the eyes and ears are always wide open. In my present tenure as the Railway Minister I have put this to use. When the CPIM comments that the Railways is bankrupt, my question is– do they know the facts and figures? Every Duronto is `Jolonto` for them. We had a commitment of Rs75000 crores to be paid as backlog of Sixth Pay Commission … but still paid dividends. In the recent past, I was travelling through Uluberia. All the industry have shut down, only one biscuit farm operates. Can you tell me one planned city that they could create in the last 35 years? Even the Sarva Shiksha Abhijan teachers are not getting their salaries. The state today is bankrupt, with a debt of over 2 lakh crores. If the government is put up for auction, no one will buy it! Whatever money for infrastructure had been allotted has been used to pay salaries. They have infiltrated the police forces, the educational institutions with their own agendas. Our target is 294 seats. It`s for the Ma, Mati , Manush to decide, how many will we get. I leave it to the people.
QUESTION: Your critics say that you wouldn`t be able to deliver even if you come to power?
MAMATA BANERJEE: The CPIM always says No-no-no-no-no. But I`m an optimist,, I always say..Yes, Yes, Yes we can. We will certainly deliver with the blessings of Ma-Mati-Manush.