I don’t know who this mamata Banerjee is (2012)

Last year, he supported Mamata Banerjee’s electoral battle against the CPM. Today, poet and Trinamool Congress MP Kabir Suman has turned rebel and has even penned a song titled ‘Haashi Niye Thako’ that mocks his leader over Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra’s arrest. He tells Swati Sengupta that Didi is now behaving like a feudal lord:

The state food and supplies minister has asked people to steer clear of the CPM and not to associate with them socially.

This is so utterly primitive. I don’t know what’s happening to this government.

But you were part of the effort that went into voting the Left Front government out of power…

I don’t know this government or this Mamata Banerjee anymore. I have fought along with Mamata. But she is now showing a face I have never seen before. She is behaving like an authoritative, feudal lord. If this goes on, she will rapidly lose her popularity and people will rise up against her.

Do you mean the government will fall?

I am not seeking Mamata’s downfall. She is a lady with a lot of qualities – she can influence people; she is hardworking. But she must mend her ways and come to her senses. It was the people of Singur, Nandigram, Lalgarh – the common peasants from these places – who brought her to power. If the government is toppled prematurely, it will mean a financial jolt for the state. But if things continue in this manner, there will be sheer anarchy, mayhem.

Are you disillusioned with the Trinamool Congress and Mamata Banerjee?

I never had any illusions. For me, the main idea was to oust the CPM. I am an anarchist; I suspect power. Now, if this government is authoritative, I will speak against it too. I am no longer against the CPM, as they are no longer in power.

You are no longer against the CPM? You are against the present “authoritative” government. And you are a Trinamool MP. How is that possible?

Mamata Banerjee says it was a mistake to select me for the MP seat. She could have ousted me from the party, but she is afraid I may not obey easily. She had fallen at my feet to make me a candidate. If she has the guts, why doesn’t she oust me? Did she think I would be a lackey? If it comes to that, I will stay on – theke jalabo (I will stay on and irritate).

How do you think the people will react?

I think a new configuration will develop now – the CPM, other Leftists, the democrats would come together and join hands.

Will you join hands with them?

Ernst Bloch (German Marxist philosopher) wrote about a friend who said that if a hundred cats were meowing in front of Berlin castle, he wouldn’t care if they were cats but rather that they were protesting and he would meow with them. I, too, will join that movement most certainly, but it must be a movement of the people. I suspect political parties now.

Why do you suspect them?

Mamata has betrayed me. She has betrayed many. She had promised to release political prisoners. But not one was released. Even Chhatradhar Mahato is still behind bars. Central and state forces are still holding fort at Jangalmahal, and Koteswar Rao (Kishanji) was killed. Rao was a great Maoist leader who motivated the people of West Midnapore to defeat the CPM and to bring Mamata to power. I was deeply saddened by Kishanji’s death. These are clear acts of betrayal.

Many allege that the TC is working in the same manner as the Left did.

The CPM did work for the first eight to 10 years after coming to power. But with the Trinamool, I cannot imagine what’s happening in less than a year. The people have been betrayed. When they came to power, the CPM leaders and workers were humble and worked for the people. It was after 10 years that they became arrogant and cruel. But Mamata has already lost touch with the people. No one should blame the Trinamool workers; they are simple and put their faith in Didi, the saviour.

Why do you say she has changed?

I had told Mamata that the day she becomes authoritative, I will speak out against her, and she had appreciated it then. She is upset with me because I am critical of her. I arranged for 150 deep tubewells in my constituency, and even the PMO lauded it, but not she. This is how she alienates people – she alienated me as well as the common people. If I was so wrong, people would come and abuse me. But they don’t. Look at IPS officer Damayanti Sen’s work in the Park Street rape case. What did she get? A transfer. Mamata’s comments on the case were cruel. In the past, she ran to every woman who was abused. And now that she is the ruler, it is as if the king/queen can do no wrong.

Many civil society activists have protested many government decisions and you have been part of such protests…

But do note the silence of many – they had gathered around Mamata before she came to power, and now they have fancy government posts. These actors, poets, theatre personalities were very vocal against the CPM, but today they are silent. It means they have no self-respect. It is a sad commentary on the Bengali intelligentsia.

Swati Sengupta

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