The man in the check shirt and brown trousers running the photocopy shop in Beck Bagan (south Kolkata) may not cut a formidable figure, but he was once accused of delivering a deadly blow to the most powerful woman in West Bengal. Lalu Alam, 51, is still being tried by a Kolkata court for attempting to kill Trinamool Congress chief and future CM Mamata Banerjee at a rally on August 16, 1990.
When HT caught up with him, the day after the state assembly results, Alam shared his take on the poll outcome unhesitatingly. "I am elated that Mamata will become the chief minister. After Bidhan Chandra Roy, the state has finally got a competent chief minister. Jyoti Basu and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee did nothing for the development of the state," said the expelled CPM cadre.
Ask him about his Mamata-connection and he is not reluctant to tell the odd tale. Alam was a branch secretary of Democratic Youth Federation of India, the youth wing of CPM. "The party instructed us to organise a rally. It started from the Ballygunge police outpost (in south Kolkata). Mamata also organised a rally on the same day. The tail of our rally started chasing the Congress rally at Hazra. Suddenly I saw Mamata fall down on the tram tracks. She injured her head and lost consciousness. Some party workers and I picked her up and put her inside a police van," claimed Alam.
"I didn't attack Mamata. She too did not lodge any complaint against me. On the night of August 16 a leader (now a CPM state secretariat member) informed the police, and I was charged with attempt to murder," he added.
According to Alam, soon after police picked him up from his residence, and he was put behind bars for four months. Faced with criticism CPM leaders were forced to expel him in 1990.
Ask him about the photographs showing him trying to attack Banerjee and pat comes the reply. "They were distorted."
As the conversation turns to his own life, Alam admits that his shop does not provide enough for his family. He now plans to turn to the woman he was once accused of trying to kill.