We have reproduced below an interview of Abhishek Banerjee with The Times of India as published on April 17, 2015:
Q: How would you rate the KMC board’s performance?
AB: It has been a great five years for KMC because there have been significant changes which Kolkatans can see and experience. To name a few -modernisation of the sewerage system, renovation of parks, riverfront beautification, healthcare initiatives, better roads, a modern garbage disposal system that rid the city of vats. The macro direction is being given by one per son -chief minister Mamata Banerjee. She understands the needs of people and insights turned into invaluable milestones for KMC
Q: If voted to power, what would you want KMC to focus on?
AB: The KMC, under the mayor’s stewardship and guidance of chief minister Mamata Banerjee, has laid a solid foundation. It is natural that we will build on this in the next five years. As in everything Mamata Banerjee does, specific timelines will be set. The performance of every ward will continue to be closely monitored. The CM’s vision is clear to make Kolkata the number one city in the country in terms of civic amenities. We are heading towards that goal.
Abhishek Banerjee campaigning for KMC elections
Q: You have been personally targeted by BJP on a range of issues, including your postgraduate qualification. Your reaction…
AB: I am just a foot soldier doing a job assigned by the party. I will not let such stray and wild accusations divert me from my goal. There is a lot of work to be done. After 34 years, Bengal is finally on the development track with new vigour. Nothing should distract us from that. We have gone to the people with a solid development agenda but the Opposition has only spread canards. We have full faith the people will give a befitting reply to all allegations.
Q: The ruling party is mostly blamed for the pre-poll violence. How would you react to that?
AB: When the writing is on the wall and you are fighting for the third or fourth place, you have to look for excuses. The administration has acted on complaints. Police don’t vote; neither do rowdies. Citizens do, and they will do it again, peacefully. Excuses are what losers look for.
On the campaign trail…
Q: Do you think the CBI notices on Trinamool and the Saradha scam will deflect public attention from core issues, like development?
AB: I have said this several times in my election rallies. CBI is the Controlled Branch of Investigation of BJP. Parties have used CBI as a political tool in the past; BJP is doing so now. But we will not cow down before CBI, or any other government agency. CBI will also not make Mamata Banerjee change track on the Land Bill.
Trinamool will continue to oppose the anti-poor and anti-farmer Bill. Land has always been part of Trinamool’s DNA. Our party chief had fasted 26 days for this cause. We are against forcible acquisition. However, we do believe that agriculture and industry can co-exist peacefully. Here, Bengal is leading by example.
While campaigning for municipal elections in Kolkata
Q: Trinamool is the only party to have announced its mayoral candidate. The party has been functioning like a well-drilled poll machine…
AB: (Smiles) Please do not refer to us as a poll machine. We are a people-centric party. We work for people though the year. We deliver on promises. People trust us. Yes, I think we ran an organized professional campaign. Don’t grudge us that. The final say is with the people and, of course, we are confident truth and development will prevail.
Q: You have always been a behind the-scenes strategist. Now, you are increasingly becoming the face of the party’s election campaign. How was the transition, personally?
AB: I still consider myself to be a student of politics. I am humbled that the party has given me responsibilities beyond that of an MP. I will continue to work hard and my single minded goal is to serve the people and fulfil their expectations.