Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee admitted on Friday that the CPI(M)-led Left Front government’s botched attempt to acquire 1,000 acres for the Tata Nano factory in Singur proved a turning point for her party and gave her the stick to beat the communists with.
“It exposed the Left’s thinking on land acquisition. They wanted to snatch land using guns, bullets and force,” she told Hindustan Times. She was, however, quick to add that her emergence as a major political force meant little to her, personally. “My whole focus is to be with the people,” she said.
Refuting charges that she had neglected her duties as railway minister by spending most of her time in West Bengal, Banerjee said that modern technology had completely removed the distance barrier.
“Telephones, teleconferencing and the internet helps me remain in touch with my officials from anywhere in the state,” she added.
Banerjee took pains to dispel the perception that her party was anti-industry. “We are pro-industry. Agriculture and industry can both co-exist. We will scientifically create a land map for every district and clearly mark agricultural land and industrial land,” she said.
According to her, such a move will help her set up industrial clusters that will generate employment.
Criticising the Left for following “a policy of violence and loot”, Banerjee accused the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government of saying “no” to everything positive.
She recalled her days at Jogmaya Debi College where she was elected unopposed twice. “That experience taught me the basics of politics,” she added.
Banerjee, in spite of her hectic schedule, remains deeply attached to her family. She acknowledged the influence of her father who died when she was still in her teens. “He inspired me to retain a humanitarian outlook,” she said.
After the death of her father, Banerjee’s mother took care of the family. In a touching show of affection, she said, “My mother and I still live together in our house in Kalighat. Even now, whenever I go out, I take her blessings.”