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November 18, 2014

We work for the people. We do not work for publicity: WB CM

We work for the people. We do not work for publicity: WB CM

Transcript of an exclusive interview with Trinamool Chairperson and Chief Minister of West Bengal, Ms Mamata Banerjee:
Q. Are you willing to be in a secular alliance with Left/Congress?

Didi: There is no question of allying with BJP. I do not know what is the policy of the Left. They will decide what they want to do. Yes, I had a talk with Sharad Yadav, he said he will come to Kolkata and take forward the talks.
See you have to understand that the programme yesterday was not a political one. It was the 125th birth anniversary celebration of Pandit Nehru.
I support the idea of a platform to fight communalism. I can play a small role for the sake of humanity. There is no question of allying with BJP. 
For good governance, peace must be there. Riots hamper growth. Riots happened in Delhi and UP recently. So many innocent people have been killed in Assam also in riots. People want peace not riots.
Q. In this national platform can you reach a working agreement with the left?
Didi: There must be a strong Opposition in a democracy. Because of the mistakes of Congress, BJP came to power. If regional parties came together, it would not have happened.
We cannot give up our manifesto. We have made promises to the people. We can come together against communal forces to protect secularism, but there has to be an ideological alliance. Left is left out in Bengal. Their ideology is different. I am not against Leftist ideology. In every political party there are good people also.
Q. You were seated at the Nehru Conclave very close to Sitaram Yechury of CPI(M)…

Didi: I was a guest not the host the the Nehru seminar. I cannot question who they can invite.  Seating arrangement at Nehru conclave was not my choice. 
As the General Secretary of Youth Congress, I attended many international conferences. Yesterday Sonia ji invited us. 
Jawaharlal Nehru was the architect of modern India. He was the proponent of 'unity in diversity'. That message attracted us.
Q. You visited LK Advani and Arun jaitley yesterday. You had been in alliance with BJP in the past. Why do you prefer the old BJP and not the new one?

Didi: I have maintained good relations with every political party. I paid courtesy calls to Somnath Chatterjee and Jyoti Basu also in the past.
Vajpayee ji was acceptable to me. Successive governments toppled back then in 1996, 1997, 1998. Country needed a good leader. 
There are programmes in my state. I have invited the President Pranab Mukherjee and Arun Jaitley ji. He has accepted the invitation. 
WB CM sowing seeds at Maati Utsav
Q. Yesterday you said you respect Dharma Gurus but not Danga Gurus. Were you calling the Prime Minister a Danga Guru?

Didi: I did not say anything about the Prime Minister. I said I respect Dharma Gurus like the monks of Ramakrishna Mission or the Shankaracharya. I have no respect or support for people who incite violence and divide the Nation.
The working relation of a State with Centre is a continuous process. Do you think I do not talk to Opposition in Assembly? I believe in courtesy.
I was in NDA but never supported BJP's communal agenda. I supported Atal ji's leadership. To counter communal forces, we need a platform to voice people's concerns.
Q. The way the Centre has been pointing fingers on Madrasas in West Bengal, does that upset you?

Didi: People don't trust the gossip-like allegations that are being made. There are many institutions in this country – how can they put the blame just on Madrasas? Our's is a vast country with different religions and castes, you cannot pinpoint a particular community. We strongly oppose that.

Q. Do you think BJP is trying to capture the space of the main Opposition in Bengal?

Didi: This is only a media hype. BJP has purchased the media. I call them paid media. They are worried about me. They know only TMC can bell the cat. Out of 294 seats, BJP has only 1. 
Media is creating a hype. The BJP wave is only on TV. In grassroots they are zero. The press is glorifying a particular person. Media has become Modi media.
We never talked about any alliance. In my State, I am comfortable to fight alone. I trust my people. We have the support of people. I do not need to take support of others. We can fight elections alone.
Q. Trinamool has been on the line of fire over Saradha scam…

Didi: We have nothing to hide on Saradha, the chit fund scam is a Left Front government creation. First you have to prove, you have to show the evidence. You have to prove it, I will resign if you prove it. We arrested the man, set up a commission, returned money to lakhs of people.
It is (from the) CPI(M)'s time, Left Front's time, not our times. We arrested the man. We set up the judicial commission. We returned the money to five lakh individuals. This is absolutely wrong to blame us. 
Q. How do you respond to the allegations of TMC encouraging terrorist groups in Bengal?

Didi: TMC has not encouraged terror, checking infiltration is the Centre's responsibility. The BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) are trying to divide people in Bengal on communal lines by playing up the Burdwan terror plot case. This is all BJP and RSS propaganda. They want to divide the country. 
My police arrested those involved in the plot, not NIA. The NIA and NSA said Bengal Govt is cooperating fully and doing good job
Q. How do you rate the performance of the new government so far?
Didi: I am not the judge, the public is the judge. They will rate the working of the new government. I maintain my working relation with the Centre. We work for the people. We do not work for publicity.
WB CM in Amlashole
Q: Do you think Achhe Din is coming to India?

Didi: Achhe Din kahaan se aa raha hai? Desh mein toh nahi aa raha hai. Videsh mein aa raha hai?
Q. Are you hinting at FDI in Insurance/Railways?

Didi: She you must understand, we are not against investment. But just because you do not have money, you cannot sell off the country. FDI in railways is an attempt to sell the country, we do not need it. Railways is the backbone of the country.
Q: There are allegations that you have been promoting dynasty politics…

Didi: Abhishek Banerjee is a party worker. He is in politics from childhood. I am not promoting him. If new generation of leaders do not emerge, how will the country run?
Q. But you have been vocally opposing the Centre on issues like infiltration from Bangladesh…

Didi: My relation with Bangladesh is very good. Infiltration is the subject of the Centre not State. Centre has BSF, SSB, and even the Army. The Centre must pass on information about infiltration to State for us to take action.
Q. As political leader how do you judge the Centre?

Didi: I do not know. I keep a watch on social media like Twitter and Facebook where I see them everyday. I am also on the social networks but I use them very little, for specific purpose. But I do not do it in every moment, because I have so many work. 
Q. What do you think of PM's Swachh Bharat Campaign?

Didi: The entire media has become Modi media, there is nothing new in things like Swachh Bharat. I do not believe in selfish politics. If you do good things, people will give recognition. This is an old programme.
The globally recognised Kanyashree scheme of Bengal
Q: Do you think Bengal is losing out on development front?

Didi: Bengal is No. 1 in every front. If you want you can challenge me.
Q: Even during UPA regime, you used to criticise the Centre. Even now, you criticise them…

Didi: The Centre takes away major share of our revenue from the treasury. If Rajasthan CM or Madhya Pradesh CM can come to Delhi and fight for their State, why can't I?
I will support the Centre in any constructive matter, not negative matters. Our stand on GST is clear. We have it in our Manifesto. States must get their dues.
Q. How would you describe your relationship with Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi today?

Didi: I have good relations with Sonia ji. I do not know Rahul Gandhi, I never worked with him.