Sonia Gandhi: What beautiful flowers you have brought Mamataji!
Mamata Banerjee: They are not more beautiful than you. After turning Kolkata into London, Digha into Sentosa and Darjeeling into Switzerland, I will turn Bengalis into Italians.
SG: I am Indian.
MB: Yes, yes, of course. I was thinking of Ottavio Quattrocchi sahib. If only Bengalis could be businessmen like him we wouldn’t have had Nandigram and Singur. You are true Bharat Mata, Soniaji. That’s why I want an Indian which means Bengali as president of India that is Bengal, I mean Bharat. At least, I want today. Tomorrow I may want someone else.
SG: Then we can agree for today only on that great son of Bengal, Pranab Mukherjeeji?
SG: W-e-ll, Ansariji is minority community and, mercifully, not the NDA’s minority choice! Unfortunately, he’s not Bengali. And Bengal has been unhappy ever since 1996 because of the historic mistake over Jyoti Basu. We thought a Bengali president the next best thing to PM. But who?
MB: Gopal Gandhi is almost Bengali.
SG: They would say I’m pushing another Gandhi.
MB: Krishna Bose can talk of Netaji.
SG: People would accuse me of doing another Pratibha Patilji. You are too busy with Bengal, and Mukul Royji won’t give up wagons, I mean Railways. So, Pranabji came up. People say Pranab Mukherjee stands for permanent “PM”. He constantly reminds us Indiraji authorised him. In fact, that’s why Rajivji couldn’t stand him. Manmohanji stands everything and everybody. Even so, things might be easier if Pranabji were in Rashtrapati Bhavan. As a politician you will understand better than me the advantage of killing two birds with one stone.
MB: I am a novice Soniaji. I can learn politics at your feet. But as I said to that Bengali girl on CNN-IBN, Pranabda is not son of Bengal. He is son of the world.
SG: Who else?
MB: Mulayamji says until I am ready for Rashtrapati Bhavan, we should have a true Bengali. Somnath Chatterjee knows what it is to be defeated. He is now in London where all good Bengalis go when it gets too hot here. He also speaks well.
SG: That’s why we made him Speaker. But the Left may disagree.
MB: Yes, Bengalis are disagreeable. The Left only listens to Pranabda.
SG: Still, you threw them out! I admire you so much for that. You run a one-man party.
MB: I learnt from you. But you must assert yourself more, Soniaji. I have always said so.
SG: Yes, I remember you saying that about 15 years ago.
MB: On December 12, 1997. I put it in my book of unforgettable memories. Pages 111 and 112 in case you are forgetting. You should take over.
SG: As president? Or PM? What about my inner voice?
MB: No no, I mean really take over. Even Azim Premji says India has no leader.
SG: I have taken over the party, the government, the country. Is anything left Mamataji?
MB: You must take over the future Soniaji. You cannot control the present unless you control the future.
SG: How can I do that?
MB: Mulayamji says he is always thinking of the future like Jawaharlal Nehruji and Indiraji did. You must do the same. Children are the future. Mulayamji says that’s why Akhileshji is Uttar Pradesh chief minister today.
SG: But the prime ministership isn’t vacant!
MB: The Railways ministry wasn’t vacant either.
SG: You are full of ideas Mamataji.
MB: Only a brilliant economist can guide India in these difficult times.
SG: It depends on where the economist is.
MB: The higher the better.
SG: You said that Mamataji.
MB: One other thing, Soniaji. You know the media. They will pester me with questions. Can I reveal our discussion? At least some names?
SG: As you know, Congress doesn’t believe in censorship. But tomorrow is another day.
MB: Yes, today’s players are for today. There may be others tomorrow. Even Kalam sahib!
SG: He’s NDA!
MB: Like me yesterday. Today, I am UPA . They are saying tomorrow I should head my own coalition.
SG: Please remember Congress is always with you.
MB: It’s like a natak, a play.
SG: Thank you again for the beautiful flowers.
MB: Please accept my respectful namaskar, Soniaji. Talking to you is always inspiring. Until tomorrow.