New Delhi: Baishali Dalmiya, the Trinamool Congress MLA from Bally constituency in West Bengal’s Howrah district—and the daughter of the late Jagmohan Dalimiya—has lashed out at the TMC leadership in the district, calling them “corrupt and termites”. In an exclusive conversation with The Sunday Guardian, Dalmiya also called Prashant Kishor the most “incompetent” person she has ever come across. Dalmiya also talked about her family friend Sourav Ganguly and his future in politics. Excerpts:
Q: It seems you are unhappy with the TMC. What are the reasons for your unhappiness with the TMC?
A: There are reasons why I joined politics in 2016 after my father’s demise. I came into politics with a lot of vision, a lot of hope, with a lot of ideas and I wanted to do something good for the common people.
Even before I joined politics, I was into social work, but then I was not getting to work with the common people and address their real issues. But soon after becoming MLA, I realised that there was not much scope of working for the common man within the TMC.
There are no funds which are allocated for development work for the common man, apart from the Rs 60 lakh given every year. A lot of projects were supposed to be done in the last two to three years, but then again, they were not completed since no funds were given. Even during the lockdown and during the Amphaan cyclone in Bengal, the government had nothing to give to the people. I had spent more than Rs 20-25 lakh from my own pocket to help the people and provide them with whatever they needed. On the other hand, the Bengal government was not giving houses to the poor people under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, despite so many people from my constituency not having houses. This is when I asked myself: what am I doing here?
Q: So, you say that for the last 10 years not much work has been done by the West Bengal government and that people have been kept deprived of their basic needs.
A: Initially, when the TMC government came to power in 2011, they had started off with some good work like building roads and installing lights, but then for the last 10 years, only this has happened in Bengal. These are all cosmetic and superficial; real development for the people of Bengal did not happen.
There is a problem with the grassroots workers of the TMC—the block level leaders, the district leaders as well as the councillors, all are corrupt people. Even for a road which is being sanctioned and constructed within the Howrah Municipal Corporation, the contractors have to shell out a big chunk of money as “cut money” to these local leaders and this leads to compromises with the quality of the road since the contractor is left with little money to construct roads.
Q: You also termed some of the TMC leaders as “termites”. Who are the termites you are referring to?
A: Yes, I have termed these block level leaders, district level leaders, and the councillors of the TMC as termites. These termites do not even let good people in the party work. They are harassing me, they are not allowing me to work. If I had taken part in their corruption and minted money, they would have liked me, but I am not here to cheat people. I have come from a different background, to help people and do something good for the people and not cheat them. That is the reason they do not like me.
I would also like to say that because of these termites many good people like Suvendu Adhikari had to leave the party. These termites stay in the party and are like silent killers who do not let the good people in the party work. If before an election, a bunch of MLAs and MPs run away, then that is not a good sign for the party. People who want to work are being forced to leave. It is not possible to survive with these people. These termites have to be removed or good people will not be able to serve in this party.
Q: Many of the TMC leaders who have voiced their unhappiness about the TMC have accused Prashant Kishor and his I-PAC of meddling with the party’s internal affairs. Do you agree with their assessment?
A: That is absolutely true. I-PAC and Prashant Kishor is another irritating factor. I must tell you that they are the most incompetent people I have come across. I have come from a corporate background, but I have never seen someone so incompetent like Prashant Kishor and his team. Initially, when they came, they came with a lot of ideas and I thought that they would have a corporate outlook and professional approach where they would guide the party towards helping and benefiting the people. But it seems they are just not interested about the common people and eradicating the termites from the party. They are only interested in creating programme after programme which holds no relevance. I work with the common people and I have seen distrust in the eyes of the common people.
Prashant Kishor is creating programmes like “Didi K Bolo”, so the common man can tell Didi directly about their problems, but what they get is registering their complaints in a call centre, then how is this “Didi K Bolo”? Moreover, once the common man has told their problems to Didi, where is the solution? They need solutions, just saying does not help. All the programmes that have been worked out by Kishor and his team are half-cooked and will not be successful.
Q: For the last few months, you have not been seen much in TMC’s programmes. Does this mean that Baishali Dalmiya is going to quit the party and join the BJP?
A; No, it is not that, I have been called for functions and programmes. But I want to say that I am being troubled by these termites, however the senior leadership of the party is still cordial with me.
As far as changing or quitting the party is concerned, I have not yet decided. I don’t think this is the right time to give a definite answer to this question. I have a lot of patience and I try my level best till the end, be it professional relationship or personal. My motive in politics is to help the common people. I want to be the voice for the voiceless. So, these are some of the agendas which are there on my list and I just want to do that.
Q: How would you describe your relationship with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee?
A: My relationship with the Hon’ble Chief Minister is good and cordial. The day I met her at the Woodland’s hospital when Sourav Ganguly was admitted, she was as good as ever. We share a good relationship—maybe even before I joined politics. As far as I am concerned, she was nice to me.
Q: You and Sourav Ganguly share a family friendship that goes back many years. There is a lot of talk about him joining politics. Is there any chance of him joining politics and would you like to see him in politics; if yes, which party should he join?
A: I am a well-wisher of Sourav Ganguly and I always want good for him. Whether he should join politics or not, it should be his own call. If he wants to be in politics or not that he has to decide and nobody can push him or stop him from doing what he thinks he wants to do.
I have seen some political leaders like Ashok Bhattacharya (CPM leader, who is considered as a very close family friend of Sourav Ganguly); he is trying to put words into his mouth, that Sourav Ganguly is not interested in politics and that he is not the right person for politics. I am not that kind of a friend who pretends to be a “friend”, but is actually an enemy. I think Bhattacharya is dead scared of Sourav Ganguly coming into politics, since, if Sourav Ganguly decides to join politics, he will join the BJP and not CPM. On the contrary, if one fine morning, Sourav Ganguly decides to join CPM instead of BJP, I think Ashok Bhattacharya would be the first person to say yes, he is the right person for politics. I am not that sort of a friend like Ashok Bhattacharya, I am not here to benefit out of Sourav Ganguly’s joining politics or not. I am a good friend of his and I always want good for him. Having said this, I would like to say that Sourav Ganguly is a very good leader and he has shown it to the world, he has demonstrated good leadership qualities in the past and even as BCCI president, he is there all the time. When he was in hospital after his surgery, he even attended the BCCI meeting from the hospital. So, this is what Sourav Ganguly is and he knows about commitment and if he commits, then the commitment should come from him and not from us.
Sourav Gnguly is intelligent; he knows the world; he knows what is best for people; he is the best decision-maker and let him decide for himself and I do not want to say anything. It is his decision and he should take the call.