December 20, 2011
Trying moments in life fails to deter Ms. Mamata Banerjee from carrying out her responsibilities, place duties over emotions
By Pallab Ghosh, AITMC Web News, Kolkata, Dec 20, 2011: Like a pillar Ms. Mamata Banerjee stood against all the hardships and challenges; remained calm even during the difficult hours by trying to keep her emotions under control. Again as the Chief Minister of the state she not even for once allowed her emotions to take over her responsibilities and maintained equilibrium between the two. This was indeed a rare gesture and again proved that her slogan of Maa-Mati-Manush is not mere a ‘slogan’ but a philosophy which she believes in.
Past two-weeks were filled with hardships and challenges for West Bengal Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Banerjee on both administrative as well as on personal front. As if the existing challenges that she is facing to run the government was not enough, from the AMRI fire incident to hooch menace seemed less to Almighty God and decided to test her endurance level. Her world which revolved around her mother, shattered completely with the demise of her mother Gayatri Devi last week.
Anybody, in such a rough situation would loose patience. But Ms. Mamata Banerjee, as if was ready to face the inevitable head-on, remained calm even during such difficult hour. She was trying to hide her tears by keeping her emotions within herself as her tears would make her family members weak. Like a pillar she stood, `Why are you crying, I am still alive, I know how difficult time it is but don’t worry I will take care of you all` was the words from `Didi` trying to console her family members at the SSKM Hospital on the day her mother was admitted.
On November 9, Kolkata woke up to find out that a devastating fire killed 100 of patients at the AMRI Hospital, the gas which erupted from the fire, predominantly due to gross negligence on the part of hospital administration, spread all over the hospitals through air-conditioner ducts which created a gas-chamber like situation hardly giving an opportunity to the patients to escape but to fall prey in the hands of destiny. The news reached Ms. Banerjee and she immediately asked concerned ministers to keep her posted, on the development while she decided to reach the spot a little late apprehending that her visit would hinder the rescue operations. However, an aggrieved Chief Minister could not stay back at home as she was eager to know of the ground realities and reached the AMRI Hospital around 9 AM. and took charge of the situation like a crisis manager. ‘I have canceled all my appointments lined up for today and decided to stay back to monitor the rescue operations personally, I will sit here whole day today’, said an aggrieved Ms. Mamata Banerjee who immediately started interaction with the family members and relatives of the victims, many of whose dead bodies were piled up while a large number of bodies still trapped in the smoke-filled cabins were yet to be rescued.
The situation was grave, the family members and relatives of the victims were perplexed and confused. Aggrieved public at the AMRI Hospital asked `Didi` whether they should go to SSKM Hospital as the administration was shifting dead bodies for postmortem. `I would suggest you to go to SSKM Hospital, I will ask the administration to make adequate arrangements. I too am going to SSKM Hospital and will monitor the situation personally’, said Ms. Mamata Banerjee trying to console the family members and relatives of the victims by standing beside them keeping all the protocols at bay. This was not the Chief Minister but `Didi` who has time and again proved her integrity for the Maa-Mati-Manush in such trying moments whether in Singur or Nandigram, Jangalmahal or even in East Delhi’s Lalita Park where a building collapsed killing large number of migrants from Bengal. `Nobody can ever question her integrity as she always wear a human face and it was she who was the first to visit the accident site even before the concerned authorities` was the reaction of a victim from Murshidabad at Lalita Park last year. Not only did she visit the area but also ensured that special train would run to fetch these poor people to their native destinations. Ms. Mamata Banerjee after reaching SSKM Hospital took an initiative to ensure that postmortem was conducted at a war-footing and the death certificate were issued immediately without any harassment. `A rare gesture on the part of a chief minister who is acting like a the crisis-manager and is sitting at the site to monitor situation, undoubtedly she is our Didi and we owe it to her not just once but umpteen times`, said Sumitra Ray. Apart from an ex-gratia payment of rupees two-lakh, an additional rupees 10,000 was given along with the death certificate to the next of the kin of the deceased towards the funeral expenses. `This is just a token amount from our side as nothing can repay the loss of the near and dear ones. I have also asked the administration to arrange for the transport enabling the people to carry the dead bodies back home. I can understand their state of mind` said Ms. Banerjee. `What we saw today, was undoubtedly rare as never in the past did any chief minister monitor such crisis personally sitting at the hospital till late evening and even arranging for the transport to carry the dead bodies home. This is possible for someone who feels the pain of the people and not pretend`, said Rathindra Mitra in praise of Mamata Banerjee.
Barely few hours had passed after the devastating AMRI incident, and the city was trying to come to terms with the grief, the news of people consuming illegal liquor in Sangrampur and Mograhat in South 24-Parganas broke like wild fire. Soon the political corridors gathered momentum and the Left Front did not even waste a second to put the blame on the Trinamool Congress, senior CPI(M) leaders turned activists and declared an agitation the next day. The death-toll increased at a galloping speed and within no-time the number of dead crossed over 100 taking the final toll to 170. Once again the people of this state saw Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Banerjee in a the different perspective, undeterred by the dirty politics being played over the hooch deaths, trying to malign her reputation, she asked her party members to look into the rescue operations. Didi, immediately ordered a CID inquiry into the matter, `I have ordered a CID inquiry and can assure you that the guilty will be punished and under no circumstances I will tolerate people playing with innocent lives. I agree that those who consumed the liquor are at fault but those are responsible behind the nexus of making illicit liquor are criminals and we will take stringent actions against them`. Ms. Banerjee announced an ex-gratia payment of rupees two-lakh for those who have lost their near and dear ones and were living below poverty-line. `They belong to very poor family and would come on the road as they have lost the bread earner in the family, I am concerned for the females and small children and their security. This is a small amount as with this they can start some small business of their own otherwise they will be left on the mercy of people and I am afraid would be way led by the anti-socials`, said an aggrieved Chief Minister. Though her gesture was mocked and misinterpreted by many as they refused to accept that the family of hooch victims would be given the money. `I vehemently oppose the government policy of paying rupees two-lakh to the next to the kin of the deceased. This is wastage of money and will build more hooch factory. I feel rupees 10,000 was enough`, reacted Chandan Mitra on a social networking site.
As the saying goes, `misfortune never comes alone`, the inevitable was yet to come for Ms. Banerjee who was already facing hard time with crisis unfolding one after the another, trying her patience and posing administrative challenges. The news of her mother’s death completely shattered her as she was very close to her mother. `My world revolves around my mother who is also the pillar of inspiration and strength. I always look upto my mother when I am in distress. In fact, she has always guided me by telling me the right and wrongs`, yet on another occasion during a television interview she said `My mother gives me rupees 10 in the morning when I leave my house for work, she gives me rupees 50 when I go to Delhi and I collect all these blessings and spend during the Kali Puja`. Ms. Banerjee who has always given priority to her duties keeping aside personal issues agreed though quite reluctantly, to go to Delhi to attend an award ceremony to receive `Indian of the Year Award for Best Politician`. `I am not feeling like going to Delhi as I am facing series of crisis in the state and my mother is critically ill, still I am going to Delhi as commitments are to be kept`, said a reluctant Ms. Banerjee. Trying to keep control over her emotions, she remained calm and replied to all the questions asked by the anchor. She rushed back to Kolkata and drove straight away to see her ailing mother. After staying in the hospital till 2 AM she came back home only to receive the sad news of her mother’s demise a few hours later.
Didi kept her word and like a pillar she stood firm without let anybody see her tears as that would stop her from performing her duties. One on hand she was the daughter who had become lonely in this whole world as she lost her friend, philosopher and guide forever, on the other hand, she not even for a second did forget her responsibility as the Chief Minister, `I don’t want the common man to face any sort of harassment due to the funeral procession hence please don’t close any road and let the traffic flow be as usual`. Not just in words but she herself decided not to go to the Keoratala Crematorium. apprehending that her visit would create utter chaos which will only make things difficult for the administration. This was indeed a rare gesture and again proved that her slogan of Maa-Mati-Manush is not mere a ‘slogan’ but a philosophy which she believes in. `Make sure that all the rituals gets over before 12 AM as the `bar bela` (Hindu ritual time) will start` was the instruction to her nephew before they set for the last journey. This was the most difficult time for Ms. Banerjee as could recall the days when her mother would wave at her when she left for work but today the journey was a never ending and she was seeing her mother for the last time.