Madan Mitra in search of a home and followers
Once a president of hundreds of puja committees, Mitra will watch Durga puja on television this year.
Once a powerful minister in the Mamata Banerjee cabinet and a key member of the core team of the Trinamool Congress, Madan Mitra today is indeed a lonely man. He can’t even get a house on rent in his home turf of Bhawanipore and has few of his followers left who come calling on him. Since his release from prison on bail, Mitra has checked into a hotel near his house to honour the conditions set by the court for his release.
His 14 ft X 12 ft room comes with an oxygen cylinder, a bed, sofa and some chairs. Mitra can’t even step out of the hotel lest he violates the court order.
There was a time when Madan Mitra was the lord of all he surveyed in the Bhawanipore area. He was the president of 400 Durga puja committees and 600 clubs. Today, he has given up all the posts, eager to beat the ‘influential’ tag. After all, his bail applications over the past one year were rejected after the CBI repeatedly argued in court that he was an ‘influential’ person who could coerce witnesses in the Saradha scam.
Madan Mitra’s countless supporters seem to have vanished ever since he was let out on bail and checked into the hotel. “Imagine my plight. I cannot even get a house on rent in Bhawanipore. Can you believe this? How long can I stay put in this hotel room. I take 32 pills daily, including some that helps me to sleep. I am also undergoing psychiatric treatment. I don’t have the strength to even walk. I cannot even go home,” Madan Mitra told HT in his hotel room No. 502.
Used to visits from hundreds of supporters an partymen every day, Madan Mitra indeed is a lonely man. “None of the leaders of my party visit me anymore. But I know they are with me. I have given up everything --- all positions in the party, clubs and hospitals. I am a free bird,” Mitra said.
“Two years in jail changed my life. Imagine spending days and nights with criminals. I lost 15 kgs in jail,” he added.
A busy man when he was in power, Mitra found little time to spend with his family. Now he has all the time in the world to pamper his wife, sons and their kids. “In jail I would wait till they arrived at the gates. My grandson is what I live for now. I have also taken to reading books,” Mitra said.
Apart from his sons, their wives and grandchild, Mitra has few visitors these days. The long queue of cars, a familiar sight outside his Kalighat home during his heydays, is missing on the road outside the hotel. But in the room next to his, some of Mitra’s diehard followers come and go daily.
“I am planning to sleep on the floor. The soft hotel bed is giving me back aches. In jail, the authorities were kind enough to give me an iron bed,” Mitra told HT.
The hotel room (number 502) really hasn’t calmed down the man. He was wearing a blue printed tee shirt and a white Lungi, but he was hardly calm and composed.
Surrounded by his sons, their wives and grandchild, Mitra has only a few occasional visitors now. As we spoke representatives of a pest control company -- his house needs the service -- and someone helped get a job long back came to meet him.
Unpacked bags lay beside the small sofa in the room.
Besides his grandson, the television is his lifeline. “I am also planning to watch the pujas on television,” said Mitra who has never offered anjali on empty stomach.
“After this Saradha episode the taint that stuck to me will not go off in a hurry. I hope people do not misunderstand me. They matter to me,” said Mitra.