In a country where politicians are known for their rambling speeches and predictable media interactions, a West Bengal Marxist minister on Tuesday, surprised journalists by making an elaborate slideshow presentation against Trinamool Congress Chief Mamata Banerjee. Under attack from the Trinamool for alleged coercion of marginal sections for land acquisition for a satellite township at Rajarhat, State Housing Minister Gautam Deb used video footage and slides as he gave a point by point rebuttal of the opposition's charges.
The hi-tech presentation was broadcast live by many local news channels for its entire duration -- nearly two hours -- making it perhaps one of the lengthiest direct telecasts of a media conference addressed by a politician in India. The presentation even had background music, with Deb displaying documents -- on an LCD screen -- of the praises heaped on the Rajarhat project by the Central Government and successive chairmen of legislative committees belonging to the opposition parties.
Divided into several sections, the documentary also showed videos of Trinamool leaders, including Union Minister of State for Urban Development Sougata Roy, abusing Deb in recent rallies, immediately followed by a letter purportedly written by Roy requesting for land to be given to the National Building Construction Company under his ministry at Rajarhat. The presentation gave a detailed report with data and documents on the project from the first day of its inception, the processes of land acquisition, setting up different committees comprising leaders from various political parties and even engaging different government and private agencies.
Court verdicts and views of some farmers who voluntarily gave their lands for the township were also part of what may be called the 'Gautam Deb Show'. The minister pitched in with his witty comments and analyses in between the presentation, and also did the job of translating into Bengali the documents written in English. His audience was clearly impressed.
"Even top national political leaders do not get such mileage on television. And Deb is anything but a national leader. But it was a highly captivating show, and I am sure it must have fetched high TRPs for the channels," said a scribe. "Had all media conferences addressed by our politicians been so colourful, we would have had greater motivation other than mere professional commitment to attend them," said another journalist.
In an apparent jibe at Banerjee, the presentation ended with the lines of a popular song of Kabir Suman, a singer turned Trinamool MP, who does not see eye to eye with his party chief on several issues.