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February 26, 1998


The Rediff Election Interview/Somen Mitra

'BJP and the Trinamul will be wiped out'

West Bengal Congress chief Somen Mitra is extremely sensitive to the suggestion that his party is in a shambles not only in the state but at the Centre too. The normally cool Mitra displayed a markedly quick temper during this interview with Tara Shankar Sahay.

How do you feel about the CPI-M leaders's claim that the Congress is no more a contender in West Bengal and that its place has been usurped by Mamata Banerjee's Trinamul Congress which is the Left Front's main foe?

Sometimes I marvel at the naiveté of the press and the media.. (shouts) Everybody knows that Trinamul is the BJP's prop and Mamata Banerjee and her storm-troopers are agents of the BJP. You will remember, I told you that Mamata has been acting as the BJP's agent even before she forged an alliance with the BJP. You know, Mamata's charade will be over very shortly when the people will throw her out along with her party. People in West Bengal are secular by nature and no self-proclaimed leader, who is acting at a communal party's behest, can change their mind to defeat the forces of communalism.

Somenda, you cannot wish away the Trinamul Congress because I have seen with my own eyes the tremendous response it is receiving. Not only in Calcutta South (where Mamata is contesting) but all over the state. Can you explain that?

Actually, some people out of curiosity have gone to hear her hysterical talk. She is abusive and extremely disrespectful to all her opponents. She behaves like a street urchin. She has been spreading lies about herself and her party as she goes about trying to foist the BJP on the people. But, mind you, it will get her nowhere. She is gradually digging her political grave.

In contrast, your party is said to be drawing thin crowds. What is the reason?

( Heatedly) What nonsense! You name any constituency in West Bengal which is not drawing big crowds at our public meetings. You journalists cannot be smug in your own assertions, I mean, you cannot just observe political realities with blinkers on. Are you there when Madame Sonia Gandhi addressed the Calcutta rally? I think it was the largest-ever gathering of people in recent history. They wanted to reach out to Madame Gandhi and they fought and jostled with each other to reach out to her.

And what happened to Mamata? I asked one of my journalist friends what he thought about it. He said Mamata had gone underground. I tell you, if Mamata or any of her cohorts were found anywhere near Madame Gandhi's rally, they would have been kicked and beaten up, such was the people's reaction. Even today at her meetings, Mamata and her bandwagon dare not talk anything against Madame Gandhi who has been eliciting such a big response for our party. Please don't forget that.

What is your party's basic agenda?

You will remember at our party's Calcutta plenary session, the Congress, among its other resolutions, had vowed to dislodge the Left Front government which is anti-people and corrupt. Our priority is to remove the Left Front government. At the same time, communal forces are our major foes and our endeavour is to stop the BJP from gaining any foothold in West Bengal. While going about that business, we will also sweep into the dustbin of history the BJP's main agent Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamul Congress.

You are the state Congress chief. Has it occurred to you that the split in the Congress votes with the Congress and the Trinamul Congress fighting each other will naturally benefit the Left Front dominated by the CPI-M?

I think the Congress has slightly over 40 per cent votes in West Bengal. Out of this, we will get the bulk as Mamata and her Trinamul will be rebuffed by the people, you will see. The BJP will also be thwarted. So in essence, we will greatly improve our performance because the disenchantment with the CPI-M and the Left Front is a reality.

Please comment on the Trinamul chief's allegation that she was recently attacked in South Calcutta by the CPI-M-Congress nexus.

You are talking about Topsia? It is a good example of what the people's wrath will do against the machinations of the agent of communal parties. The people in Topsia said 'get out and stay out' to the Trinamul woman. That is what is going to happen, you will see.

What is your analysis of why Banerjee concluded her party's alliance with the BJP?

You see, she wanted to be, before launching her outfit, the person to distribute party tickets in West Bengal when I am the state chief. She wanted to deprive all those Congressmen who have dedicated their lives to fight the CPI-M misrule for two decades. I told Kesriji about it. He agreed, and once her ambitions were shattered, she promptly went to the BJP and concluded an understanding. That is how she floated Trinamul and promptly tied up with the BJP. Do you know that the BJP is pouring in crores of rupees for her so-called election campaign? You must see the lifestyle of Trinamul members. They behave like extravagant film-stars.

What is your opinion about the theory that the BJP and the Trinamul could upset the political calculations of both the Congress a well as the CPI-M?

Dada, aapni kon duniyaye thankchen (Brother, which world are you living in)? The reality is front of you, the BJP and the Trinamul will be wiped out.

The Rediff Election Interviews

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