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December 1, 2021

Not important now who would become prime minister, save democracy: Mamata Banerjee

Not important now who would become prime minister, save democracy: Mamata Banerjee

On the second day of her trip to Mumbai, Mamata Banerjee participated in a discussion attended by people like poet-lyricist Javed Akhtar, director Mahesh Bhatt, actors Swara Bhaskar and Richa Chadha, social activist Medha Patkar and others.

After the programme, she spoke to the press.

Highlights of her interaction:

Our primary weapon is unity. I work for the betterment of those from the lower classes, not the rich, and this is always reflected in the way All India Trinamool Congress does politics.

India is a huge country. We don’t want to meddle in Maharashtra politics. We will only fight in those places where the regional parties won’t fight BJP. We don’t want to destabilise the political balance in other states.

We are waiting for the last six to eight years. But someone has to bell the cat. We aim to banish  BJP politically.

If the Indian National Congress can fight me in Bengal, why can’t I fight it in Goa?

An amiable society is very important to have. The main aim is to save democracy from BJP’s attacks. Who will be the candidate for prime minister can be decided upon later.

To do politics, you have to be in the field and I have done that. I have even done a hunger strike to press for people’s demands to be fulfilled.

We are facing the undemocratic, cruel and unjust nature of BJP. If we become united, we will be able to defeat it.

The media needs to become courageous. They have to take a position. The media, judiciary and civil society will play an important role and show us the way. We need to start a movement as Jayprakash Narayan did.

Our country does not need muscle power but people’s power. Diversity is our strength, something we always need to remember.

BJP workers in Tripura have beaten up our workers. They have thrashed journalists too.

The UAPA is not meant for members of civil society. It has been promulgated to defend the country from threats to internal security and from external aggression. The Union government is misusing UAPA.

The UAPA has rarely been used in Bengal. Our government has even released the Maoist leader Chhatradhar Mahato and given a job to his wife. But NIA has arrested him again.

Bengal has released 550 people sentenced to life imprisonment. No harsh laws will be in place after the BJP goes away.

Constructive criticism will only help us to become better as a society. Even the prime minister has asked for pardon from farmers. This proves that the public is more powerful than political leaders.

Our goals are to save the country and save democracy, to do which we need build up a people’s movement.

Development of Bengal:

There is a bridge connecting the cultural and financial heritages of Mumbai and Kolkata. Rabindranath Tagore even wrote a poem on Chhatrapati Shivaji.

The Swasthya Sathi scheme in Bengal provides free treatment to people across the state.

For female students in schools, colleges and universities of Bengal, there is the Kanyashree scheme, which has been awarded by the United Nations.

Bengal has started scholarship schemes for minority community students too, alongside those from the majority community. Books, uniforms, tablets and food are provided free of cost to school students.

We have the Lakshmir Bhandar scheme, through which any woman over the age of 25 is eligible to get a monthly allowance—Rs 500 for general category women and Rs Rs 1,000 for scheduled caste, scheduled tribe and minority community women.

Farmers in Bengal get grants from the state government. We have a pension scheme too for widows.

The Bengal government gives food items through ration free of cost.

We have started issuing student credit cards through which loans up to Rs 10 lakh are provided.

Bengal is at the number one position in terms of skill development and is among the best in various aspects right from the panchayat to the top government levels.

We aim to develop the state through developing all sections of society.

We have started giving out the Banga Bibhushan and Banga Ratna awards to talented people of the state in various fields.

We have recognised the Santhali language and the Santhals’ Ol Chiki script officially.

We will organise the Kolkata International Film Festival this time.

There is a fellowship for the state’s artistes too.