The all-new Mamata Banerjee — softened by recent success and wizened by past failures — says it’s the people, and not her Trinamool Congress (TMC) who have taught the Left a lesson in humility. Banerjee is for preserving her ties with the Congress, to keep the Left out. Excerpts from an interview.
<b1>Do you see your party’s victory since the panchayat polls in May 2008 as an anti-Left wave — as CPI(M) Politburo member M.K. Pandhe said — or as a pro-Mamata wave?
I’ll never call it a pro-Mamata wave. It is an anti-Left wave that is sweeping over
Bengal. It is a wave of the people. It is a tsunami unleashed by the very people who
backed the Left for 33 years.
How do you interpret this victory? Is it a semi-final before the final battle in the 2011 assembly elections?
This victory has again proved that the people have lost faith in the party that has been duping them for more than three decades now. People have finally seen the logic in my argument that there cannot be peace and development under the CPI(M)-led Left Front government. This is people’s semi-final and not mine. They have to decide what they want in 2011.
Where does the TMC go from here?
We go to the people. There is no reason to be complacent and take our position for granted. We must strengthen our contact with the people, reach out and tell the masses that we are here for their good and well being.
Senior Left leaders, such as Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Sitaram Yechury, have alleged that the Maoists are helping you. What do you have to say?
This is atrocious and ridiculous. This is part of the CPI(M) strategy to character-assassinate their enemies. But they will not succeed this time in their dirty game.
There’s a view that you are reinventing your image from that of a street fighter to a serious intellectual. How has Brand Mamata evolved since the 2006 assembly elections?
There is no definite roadmap that I have adopted. I’m being myself. I am true to my passion — getting rid of the Red in Bengal. As for evolving, I am evolving as a stronger challenger to the CPI(M) with the support of the people.
Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee outlined a vision for an industrialised West Bengal. What is your vision? And how will you tackle your anti-industry image?
Who says I have an anti-industry image? This is a perception of those who are not clear about my stand and those who are guided by pre-conceived notions supplied by the likes of the CPI(M). My vision is all-round development of Bengal. Industry and agriculture should go hand-in-hand, and not grow at the cost of the other. Violence should stop and peace should prevail.
What is the future of the TMC-Congress alliance in Bengal?
The alliance is very well knit. The people wanted the two parties to come together to prevent a division of votes against the Left. We’ve fulfilled the aspirations of the people. I’m going to preserve the alliance and we’ll drive the Left out of Bengal.