After nephew Abhishek, another close relative of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has jumped into the political arena. And at least two others look set to follow.
“Just as Kashmir’s apples will not grow in Bengal, so too will the BJP lotus never bloom here,” Kartick Banerjee, one of Mamata’s five brothers, told a Trinamool Congress election meeting not far from Didi’s Kalighat home last week. “This land is not for communal dangaa.”
Abhishek is already an important Trinamool leader and key campaigner for the municipal elections of April 18.
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Apart from Kartick, two other brothers of Mamata’s, Swapan Banerjee alias Babon and Ganesh Banerjee too have been campaigning for Trinamool candidates, a senior South Kolkata party leader said.
Kartick spoke for nearly 45 minutes on Friday to a crowd of several hundred people at an election meeting for Manjushree Majumdar, TMC candidate for ward 83.
He spoke on a range of issues from Junglemahal to “fake” reports of starvation deaths in the tea gardens, from the “disinformation” campaign over suicides by potato farmers to allegedly false media reports of blue-and-white paint, and from the alleged chaos in the state BJP to the CPM’s growing irrelevance.
“In BJP, everyone now seems to have become a Narendra Modi,” Kartick alleged. “The leaders are busy reaping the harvest of the short-lived Modi wave. Many are minting crores of rupees. But in the municipal polls not one seat is safe for the BJP,” Kartick Banerjee said.
The Maoists struck roots in Junglemahal following “torture” by CPM leaders and cadres, Kartick said. “The CPM indulged in politics with the poor. On the pretext of helping the poor, CPM cadres raped the mothers and daughters of Junglemahal. It was to stop these atrocities that the people of Junglemahal took up arms with the Maoists,” he alleged.
“Mamata Banerjee”, Kartick said, “restored peace in Junglemahal with rice at Rs 2/kg for everyone. They do not starve any more. He has also given jobs to over 10 lakh people, and the Maoists have vanished from the area”.
Kartick spoke of “horror memories” of Operation Sunshine during the rule of the Left Front. “Do you remember how Asim Dasgupta (then finance minister) used to come stealthily, wearing a hat, to demolish and evict hawkers? “He had created terror in Kolkata.”
Kartick alleged that a list of 25-30 beneficiaries, including fake ones, of a widows’ pension scheme had been drawn up to siphon off money. “The list never grew in the 30 years of Left rule… it was as though no one was becoming a widow… When Mamata Banerjee came to power, the list was expanded, and genuine widows get pensions,” he said.
Veteran CPM leader Md Selim reacted sharply to Kartick Banerjee’s allegations, especially the one about rape by cadres in Junglemahal, which he described as “baseless”.
“This is the first time that we are hearing that Mamata’s brother Kartick Banerjee too has political ambitions. Earlier, Mamata used to say she has no parivar. The Trinamool Congress was her parivar. Now it appears that the Mamata parivar has become the Trinamool parivar. Besides, TMC is the party that has been inducting rapists into politics. It is ridiculous to hear comments about Junglemahal rapists from the Trinamool Congress,” Selim said.