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April 26, 2011

May 13 will be beginning of a long journey: Mamata Banerjee

May 13 will be beginning of a long journey: Mamata Banerjee

The next chief minister of West Bengal will have to be a thinker-cum-administrator to bring growth in every field. Do you think you will be able to metamorphose from a firebrand revolutionary to a model head of state?

I have been a Union Minister for Youth & Sports, Coal and now Railway Minister . Every time my work has been appreciated. My record is there for everyone to see. Our party, too, has a lot of talent. There are a lot of leading intellectuals, bureaucrats and technocrats who have joined me in my effort to revive Bengal. Together, I believe we can take Bengal to the top. Most importantly, I am always with the people. They are my inspiration.

You have made people of West Bengal dream, again, after a long time. They expect you to deliver at the shortest time. What are your priorities?

Why exist if you cannot even dream? Look at the terrible state Bengal is in. The share of number of factories in the state has fallen from 7.6% to 4%. On the education development index, we rank only above Assam, Bihar and Jharkhand. So, from education to employment, the state is suffering. The finances are so bad that funds meant for development are being used to pay salaries.

The most important thing for me is to provide opportunities for everyone to participate in the revival of Bengal. If every individual feels he is contributing to something big, then he will put in a lot of effort. We will be happy to lead, but we need everyone in the state to join us in this effort.

West Bengal is seen as a state where development has taken a back-seat. How do you propose to alter this image?

My first priority will be to make everyone in the state feel proud of Bengal. We will work to revive the work culture of the state which has suffered in the past 34 years. CPM has always put the party first. We will put the people first. We will rejuvenate the culture of the state to one of hope. Bengal's people need to be given the confidence to hope once more.

Turning around West Bengal will be a herculean task. What will be your thrust on agriculture, vis-A -vis industry?

The ideal balance is the one which benefits everybody. We will not get into a situation where for the development of one, the other will be sacrificed. Under our rule, another Singur or Nandigram will not happen. At every stage, welfare of the state and its people will be most important. We will not say no to anything that contributes positively. At the same time, we will make sure it will not affect anyone negatively. The idea of 'Maa, Mati, Manush' will guide us.


Don't you think West Bengal needs big-ticket investments apart from the thrust given to micro, small and medium sector enterprises in the election manifesto?

Again, it is not a question of one or the other, but both. If you give hope and confidence and make clear your honesty of purpose, investors will come. I'm sure they're waiting for CPM to go. Has it really been honest in its dealings with the industry? How many years do you give your government to make an impression. We will certainly not ask for 34 years (laughs) and will not be making excuses at the end of it.

How do you plan to change the work culture, remove corruption and wean people away from excessive politicking to growth and development?

All this is possible when the leader sets an example. During the Left Front rule, everything was done for CPM. Central funds were misused. The party's 'harmads' benefited more than the people. We will change that. Once everyone understands that we work for the people and not for the party, the work culture will automatically improve.

Do you think your authoritarian image will serve you well as chief minister?

There is no such image. Everyone knows who I am. The people love me. I know that I have to work hard. I cannot expect anyone to work if I don't. If I am single-minded about anything, it is only the development of Bengal.

Do you think that if your party wins estimated 160-185 seats and with Congress goes over 200, the success will make you over-confident?

I don't want to respond to specific numbers. What I do know is that if people are with us, we will give CPM a fitting reply. We will get a two-thirds majority.

With no CPM to fight, would there be a vacuum in your mindspace if you win? Will you paint Writers Buildings green?

Revenge is history, change is victory. The target is not to just overthrow CPM. It is to get Bengal back its glory. The Left has destroyed the state completely, its finances, its infrastructure, its health and education system, its culture, its ability to believe in itself. May 13 will not be the end, it will only be the beginning of a long journey.

How do you plan to improve revenue in a situation where you have over 2 lakh crore outstanding dues?

Let us study the specifics and come up with a solution. We will table it within six months of coming to power.

Can the Maoist and Gorkhaland problems be resolved easily?

Everything can be solved if there is honesty of purpose and a rigorous dialogue. We need to focus on development so that nobody, no section and no region, feels left out. I will visit Jangalmahal and Darjeeling within 100 days of declaration of results.


Do you plan to institute an inquiry commission to dig out misdeeds of the Marxist government ??

We will set up an expert committee and review cases one-by-one. We will go through the last 35 years and look at each and every political case. The Kashipur and Saibari massacres, the Hemant Basu murder case – everything will come up for review. The Left Front Governments have failed miserably in delivering justice. We will deal with each case.

Do you think the land availability problem can be solved easily?

We will proceed in a scientific manner. Land maps will make it clear what is agricultural land and what is industry land. We have set an example by doing something similar for the Railways. Land acquisition is a problem only when you go about it with no understanding of the situation.

Who will be your role models?

Mahatma Gandhi once said that the mission of a government is to wipe every tear from every eye. I can think of no other role model.