The Rediff Interview/ Somen Mitra
'Congress is better off without Mamata'
West Bengal Pradesh Congress chief Somen Mitra seems to be on cloud nine, following stormy petrel Mamata Banerjee's departure from the party.
With party president Sitaram Kesri making him the state unit's ticket-distribution committee chief against Sonia Gandhi's wishes -- she said the post should go to Mamata -- the latter was forced to go ahead with her plans of forming the Trinamool Congress. Mamata was later expelled from the party.
In this exclusive interview, Mitra says the party is better off without
The Communist Party of India-Marxist is all set to sweep the Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal after your party split in the state. Please comment.
No, I don't think so. The CPI-M has ruled West Bengal for two
decades and the people are fed up with its misrule. I think the people will now vote for the Congress and bring it
back to power.
That seems to be an optimistic statement?
Maybe. But it is based on reality. The people want a change.
I don't want to go into the Marxist government's long list of
omissions and commissions. But I can tell you this - the people will vote against the CPI-M.
As your party has split in West Bengal, don't you think the obvious gainer is the CPI-M?
No. The CPI-M will take a battering.
But news reports suggest that Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress is getting good response?
I think some people are curious. That is all.
But you have also acknowledged her crowd-pulling talent.
I think the party is better off without her. All these years
she has been fuelling her own ego and criticising the Congress leadership, both at the state and the Centre. You cannot
be a rebel and expect the leadership to make all sorts of concessions
all the time.
Certain Congress leaders feel that the party is sunk without Mamata and that you will be a mere bystander as the CPI-M
corners all the seats. What do you think?
(laughs) Who are these leaders and what do they know about
the ground realities in West Bengal? That is why Kesriji weighed all the pros and cons and expelled Mamata from the party.
But since the Congress chief listened to you at Mamata's expense, haven't you antagonised Sonia Gandhi as well?
Look, Soniaji is respected by everybody and she will not take sides in party matters. I don't want to say anything more in this regard.
What do you have to say about the BJP's overtures to the Trinamool Congress?
Mamata stands exposed now, she is an agent of the BJP. The people of West Bengal are not communal and they will give a fitting reply to such forces.
How many seats do you think the Congress will get in the polls?
Enough to form the government!
The Rediff Interview