“There is no such thing as ‘if I win’. I will win for sure, and if the margin is below 50,000, I will resign,” said Manirul Islam.
The Trinamool MLA from Labhpur in Birbhum district was in the news in 2014 for reportedly claiming that he had crushed three persons under his feet and threatening to decapitate a Congress leader. Now, ahead of the Assembly elections, he denies having said any such thing.
“It is a trick of the media, which edits my speeches to make them sound derogatory,” he told The India Express. He also did not remember being warned by the Election Commission at that time.
In a spotless white kurta-pyjama, he was ready to leave for campaigning before he met The Indian Express at his posh party office in Suri, Birbhum. A bottle of ORS was ready in his SUV to beat the heat.
Countering the allegation that he had unleashed a reign of terror on Opposition parties, Islam said that after the election results on May 19, the Opposition parties would “vanish” from Labhpur. “There is no other party here. They have all been flattened. The ones you see are highlighted by a section of the media. On May 19, you will see them all vanish. There is no political party against Mamata Banerjee in Birbhum,” he said.
Ridiculing the Left-Congress alliance, he said people would vote for the Trinamool instead. “People’s hands were severed by CPM cadres for voting for the Congress. Do you think they will accept the union of the two arch rivals? They are not happy at the ground level and they will vote for Mamata,” he said.
About the Narada sting on top Trinamool leaders, Islam said he did not believe the clips were original. “I am shown wearing a tricolour uttorio (shawl). But actually I was not wearing one. Any photo and video can be morphed. People understand these are pre-poll tactics to taint a party. The media is being abused. The videos are all fake. The people of Bengal will reply to it,” he said. “Mamata is the symbol of honesty. Her associates will never indulge in such dishonest practices,” he added. When asked about an internal inquiry into the matter, he said he was not authorised to talk about it.
Islam does not have a presence on social networking websites. “Call me technologically impaired, but I believe in connecting with people directly. Besides, only 5 per cent of the population of my constituency use Facebook. Adda sessions with people build more connections than Facebook posts,” he said.
After campaigning, Islam and other top leaders of the district meet at the party district president’s residence every evening to discuss poll strategies. “We have dinner and set off for home around midnight,” Islam said.
The 56-year-old leader lives here alone along with some party workers. “My wife stays in Kolkata. She is worried about my health, because I am diabetic, but she never asks me to quit politics. She has been a great support,” said the MLA.