How did you become a key advisor to Mamata Banerjee?
I don’t see my role as a key advisor as seen by the media. I have seen her through a very difficult time. But, now I can say, in this world, in this continent, in this country and in the state of West Bengal, there is no other leader who is as popular as Mamata Banerjee. There is an elite society in Bengal, suffering from colonial hangovers, who looked down upon her because she wears cotton sarees and plastic slippers. In Kolkata, you can’t enter a club without being formally dressed. But, in Chennai, you can enter clubs in a lungi. I am also a part of this urban elite but we started interacting during her fast over the Singur issue, as I saw her as the force of democracy. In democracy, the first change needs to come in the political atmosphere then it will translate into cultural and other social changes.
Does she really listen to what you say?
This is again a false campaign against her that she is directionless, arrogant, stubborn and angry. She is a very simple person. It’s the biggest joke that Sitaram Yechury (CPI(M) politburo member) has become the leader of the proletariat in India.
I see her as the most talented woman in politics in India. I may have some expertise in paintings but certainly I am not talented to give her lecture on politics. But, as a sensitive and concerned citizen, we provide inputs to her thought process. You can say we exchange ideas. She is a very patient listener.
What are you expecting her to do now, after Trinamool is back in power at the Kolkata and Salt Lake municipalities?
She should bring back the old glory of Kolkata. Make it greener and cleaner. At the same time, the two cities will need to cater to the new world order. I personally want her to do something about the polluted Ganges. Her critics shout that she doesn’t stay in Delhi and work in Rail Bhawan. But, do these people know that in Kolkata, everyday she works at least till 2 o’clock in the morning on her ministry-related things? If one wants to work, she can work from anywhere.