Mamata Banerjee turned 17 on January 5, 1972. The very next month her world came crashing down—her father, Promileswar Banerjee, died on February 9 at PG Hospital, barely a kilometre away from their Harish Chatterjee Street home, at the age of 41. The West Bengal chief minister recalls that he died “because of the lack of medical treatment”. This, her first brush with a callous healthcare system, is what still motivates her to make frequent, unannounced visits to government hospitals after coming to power. Known as Panditmoshai in the neighbourhood, her father was a government contractor, but the family couldn’t pay for his treatment because various departments failed to clear his pending bills. His friends—whom he had gone out of his way to help—didn’t come to his rescue either, rues Mamata. A cheque for Rs 60,000 arrived the day after he died. “The cheque was useless; it couldn’t bring my father back to life,” says the CM. “Only God is witness to our trauma and our struggle for survival after Baba passed away.”
The CM says that many people are under the impression that Subrata Mukherjee, the ex-Congress leader who is now her panchayat and rural affairs minister, inducted her into politics. “But this is not correct. The persons who helped me the most when I was a political greenhorn were Partha Roy Chowdhury, Ranjit Ghosh, Ranada and Dilip Majumdar.” The Congress was in power in West Bengal from 1972 to 1975. “But in those days we did not go to the homes of our leaders to lobby for positions in the party or ask for other favours.”
By all accounts, dabbling in politics apart, Mamata led a different life from most of her college-mates. After her father’s death, her mother sold 12 bighas of land they owned in Rampurhat and handed the money to her eldest son, Ajit, to invest in business so that the family could have a regular income. But it was Mamata—the second eldest—who held the family together. She woke up at 3.30 am every day to cook for her four brothers and a sister and mother before going to college. She recalls gazing in bewilderment at her college friends when they passionately discussed clothes or films—luxuries she couldn’t afford to even think about in those days.
Apropos A Fire-Dweller at the Kiln, Mamata may be a little naive, but you cannot question her integrity.
How does all this sweet, innocence account stand up with her dressing down of the IPS Officer Damayanti Sen ?
Or for that matter her crusade for Gurkhaland , or even her vigorous Islamisation program now for the remnant of Bengal as evidenced by her sops for the Imams and building more madrassas for those who tore apart the original Bengal during 1940-47?
I am afraid history will judge her very harshly as the wicked who brought about the final death knell of Hindu Bengal.
//I am afraid history will judge her very harshly as the wicked who brought about the final death knell of Hindu Bengal.///
And the judges are those who have polluted Indian history since its origin, long before their races took birth. to hell with their history writing. Mamta is a great lady and none other living secular can match her. Rest (?)secular are either pimp of someone or looter of this nation. A iron lady freed bangal from cruel clutches commies. Are they really commies? NO, a mask of communism on the faces of pimp of dalals of west.
Pinaki S Ray >> I am afraid history will judge her very harshly as the wicked who brought about the final death knell of Hindu Bengal.
Comrade Pinaki, please tell us honestly, can anyone be more wicked and more destructive to the Bengali Hindu than the most celebrated feudal crook called Jyothi Basu? JB's 25 year regime has done more damage to Bengal than 200 years of British Rule,but as Mao said, people take centuries to judge history. Sad that Mamata is painted as a villain (yes she is no saint, she has her stupidities) despite the fact that she has been in power for such a short duration !!
Its good to have a leader who has borne the worst of what life can offer. And it is Mamata's strength that she does not see this as an opportunity to lavish herself with what she missed, but rather look out for others who may be suffering as she did. (Compare with others like Mayawati, who saw their CMship as an opportunity to grasp everything they missed out on - including sending a plane to fetch shoes from Mumbai!). While her integrity cannot be questioned, she may be a bit naive, and this could be her downfall.
I really appreciate this piece. Perhaps the most illuminating. But, when one can be a Communist leader, being Mr. Jyoti Basu, and a Trinamool leader, being Mamata Banerjee, it seems they had differences, not because of Communism, or the ideology of the Congress, and Trinamool. I am a little subdued, because many people live the life of such leaders, and we feel, we learn about life from their lives, when we might have lived or are living similar lives. When there are leaders, of ordinary people, generally, the leaders must not have differences, because the people who follow these leaders seem to have everything common and nothing uncommon, between them.
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