Mukul Roy addressed his first rally as BJP Leader on November 10. From the stage, he unleashed a flurry of attacks on the ruling establishment in Bengal. The so-called ‘Chanakya’ was liberal with facts, and so his political rhetoric was full of inconsistencies and ironies.
In this post, I attempt to ask Mukul Roy some questions, and set the record straight.
A meme doing the rounds on WhatsApp
Mukul Roy: I am reminded of 2006 where people were dying and CM was attending film festival. Only the CM has changed but the situation is same. People are dying of dengue and she is attending nacha-gaana.
Counter: Unlike her predecessor, Mamata Banerjee has not relinquished her duties as Chief Minister. The film festival is an important event in the cultural calendar of the State. Even before attending the inaugural ceremony, an important stock-taking meeting was held at Nabanna for projects of the rural development ministry.
Before preaching about dengue deaths, Mukul Roy should see the state-wise statistics of deaths due to vector-borne diseases. BJP-ruled States are the worst performers. The casualties in Bengal are much lesser, thanks to the initiatives of the State Govt.
Mukul Roy: TMC slogan was bodla noy, bodol chai. Only little has changed while politics of vengeance has been unleashed. This kind of politics to silence Opposition in Bengal is unprecedented.
Counter: Mr Roy should feel ashamed that he feels nothing has changed in Bengal. Has he forgotten the sacrifice of thousands of Congress and TMC workers? Has he forgotten the bloodied past of Singur, Nandigram, Netai, Keshpur? Can he point to a single case of mass murder or massacre under Mamata? Does he not see the smiles on the faces of people of Jangalmahal? Amlashole gets rice at Rs 2/kg now. Is this not a change?
Mukul Roy: False cases are being registered. Police is being misused. In a democracy I have the right to protest.
Counter: Former MP Somen Mitra is on record saying Mukul Roy confided in him that the latter was out of jail only because of Arun Jaitley. Look at BJP’s track record of the misuse of CBI. It is ironical that Mukul Roy himself had addressed several pressers on the vindictive politics of BJP in the past.
Mukul Roy: The slogan of Buddhadeb was “Krishi amader bhitti, shilpo amader bhobisyot”. TMC slogan was “krishi aar shilpo, hashi aar khushi’. Hashi (Smile) of farmers has disappeared. Khushi (happiness) of industry is absent in Bengal.
Counter: Indulging in political rhetoric without any basis in facts seems to be the pre-requisite to joining BJP. Mukul Roy is suffering from the same disease.
It is a matter of record that Bengal Government has won Krishi Karman for six years in a row since 2011. Is this not a sign of “hashi”? More than 69 Lakh Kisan Credit Cards have been distributed so far. Farmer’s household income more than doubled, while Modi has failed to deliver on his poll promise.
It is true Bengal has had a negative image when it comes to industries. There is a history behind this perception. In the last six years, this legacy has been shed off. Thanks to the successful organisation of Bengal Global Business Summit three years in a row, the world now recognises Bengal as an investment destination. 40% of proposals received are under process while the figure for Gujarat is 1% only.
The core strength of Bengal is the MSME sector where the State has seen unprecedented growth in six years. The bank credit growth is the highest in the country. So when Mukul Roy says there is no ‘khushi’ in Bengal, does he mean khushi among BJP cadres?
Mukul Roy: Like Jyoti babu, Mamata Banerjee is also going to London to bring investments. But no investment has come in. At least Jyoti babu used to go alone, she takes an entourage with her.
Counter: As I have already said, Bengal has a legacy of negative image. Mamata Banerjee’s trips may not bring immediate investments, but they go a long way in changing the perception of the State. Instead of petty political partisanship, should the BJP not feel proud every time the State earns laurels abroad?
Mukul Roy: TMC had said there will be no politicisation of education. Can I ask, who is the VC of CU? An incompetent party cadre has been put on the chair.
Counter: What is Mukul’s view on saffronisation of education under BJP? Pray, what are the credentials of Gajendra Chauhan, Smriti Irani and their ilk? What is the qualification of the chief of ICHR? Has he forgotten how BJP meddled in the affairs of JNU?
Mukul Roy: Healthcare in Bengal is in shambles. Multi speciality hospitals are being built where there are no doctors or patients
Counter: Bengal is the national model when it comes to setting up fair price medicine shops. There has been a huge increase in healthcare infrastructure in Bengal which has resulted in significant reduction in infant mortality rate. Institutional delivery rate has risen from 65 to 90%.
Mukul Roy should rather have a chat on healthcare with the health minister of UP, who had ironically said ‘Bhaag Mukul Bhaag’ in 2015, on the deaths of newborns in Gorakhpur.
Mukul Roy: I quit TMC because we have been failed to fulfil our electoral promises. There is no democracy inside the party.
Counter: Between 2011-15, did Mukul Roy not attend inauguration of government schemes and projects? Were they false? Which promise has not been fulfilled?
The Trinamool Congress gave an account of work done in their 2016 Manifesto. Mukul Roy was in the party back then. Did he not believe in his own party’s manifesto?
The people of Bengal have voted Didi to power for a second term with record 211 seats. Is this not democracy? Is this not an endorsement of her work?
Mukul Roy: Biswa Bangla is not a govt organisation. It is a company. Owner is Abhishek Banerjee. Jago Bangla, the mouthpiece of TMC, is registered in the name of Abhishek Banerjee
Counter: The Home Secretary of Bengal has already countered Mukul Roy’s false claim about Biswa Bangla. I need not add more.
Partha Chatterjee has rubbished his false claims about Jago Bangla already.
Mukul Roy: Mamata’s appeasement policy is fuelling communalism. Durga Puja, Saraswati Puja are being banned. This is an assault on Bengali culture
Counter: Durga Puja was never banned. Restrictions were put up for Bishorjon by the police due to Muharram. As I had written earlier, in Durga Pujo, ghot bishorjon is the main ritual on Dashami, which happens at the pandal itself. Idol immersion is not guided by scriptures.
Mukul Roy is speaking the language of BJP. Tolerance and harmony have been Bengali culture for eons. Armed rallies on Ram Navami have never been part of BJP culture. What appeasement is he talking about? Kanyashree, Sikshashree, Sabuj Sathi, Khadya Sathi, Gatidhara, Gitanjali – who are the beneficiaries? People of all religions, caste and creed.
Mamata Banerjee attends the festivals and programmes of all religions. But BJP has a problem only when she attends Muslim functions.
Mukul Roy: I was present at Delo during CM’s meeting with Sudipto Sen. Raghavendra Singh and Kunal Ghosh were also present. Initial conversation was about tourism and business initiatives. Then I left. Meetings were held at Suvaprasanna’s house, Pratidin office. Sudipto Sen invested in Rs 840 crore for tourism, ambulance.
Counter: If he was privy to this information, why did not share it with investigative agencies for 4 years? Why did he conceal? Is it also not a matter of record that Mukul Roy was the last person to call up Saradha Chairman before he escaped to Kashmir?
Mukul Roy: So many festivals are being organised but State has no money for employees.
Counter: Every department has a budget of which festivals are a small part. Mukul Roy himself attended these festivals until two years ago. Did his conscience not prick him back then? A lot of self-help groups and artistes earn livelihood from these festivals. Is Mukul Roy against their interests? As for employees, a pay commission has been set up. Despite the huge debt burden, the State Govt is giving DA to employees to the best of its ability. If Mukul really cares about finances of Bengal, he should ask Jaitley to grant a moratorium to the State.
Mukul Roy: TMC is not a political party. It has become a limited company.
Counter: BJP is Adani Private Limited. Mukul Roy has now chosen to serve in Jay Shah’s company.
Words defy thoughts as i sit on my chair trying to put the pieces together. Friday morning on 9 December 2011 was different. The propensity of the AMRI tragedy did not strike me first, but as day progressed, the shame, the anguish, the disgust for being human grew large!
How the tragedy unfolded on the ill fated morning is chronicled here. Let this tragedy give us the resolve to be vigilant, and keep putting pressure on the system to deliver on safety for the citizens and not let AMRI become just another annual mourning ritual. To start with, let justice be delivered to those souls who trusted the hospital with their health, invested money for their care and choked to death instead.
For justice to be delivered, the guilty must be punished. Some questions that have been doing the rounds in my mind since that Black Friday, may in some way help the case.
1. Eye witnesses, surviving patients say they had smelt fumes since 2.15AM in the morning. But hospital authorities maintain the fire started at 3.30AM. Why is the hospital administration trying to hush up the “actual” time of the spark?
2. Even if fire started at 3.30AM, why did the hospital not inform Fire Brigade immediately? Why did they wait till 4.15AM to call the fire services team? Why was the police not informed?
3. When local residents came to help rescue trapped patients, doors were shut on their face. Security guards even beat up those who tried to enter forcefully. Even family members of patients were turned away saying situation was under control. (Times Of India reports, a guard was punished by hospital authorities for helping those who came for rescue operations.) Is this the way a hospital ensures emergency services?
4. Why were the hospital directors not informed (as per their confession to the police) that the hospital was on fire? And if they were indeed informed, why did they not immediately come to site and take charge?
5. By 6AM, none of the hospital staff were to be seen at the scene of tragedy (barring a few who gave up their life saving patients). Not a single helpline number was issued by authorities nor were bereaved and anxious families cooperated with. Is this “healthcare”?
6. Fire Brigade reached the site at about 5AM, but came without any equipment (lessons were not learnt from the Stephen Court tragedy). What took them so much time to arrive is a million dollar question, given their branch is stones throw away from the hospital (and at that time of the day, chances of any traffic jam does not arise).
7. The licence of the Annexe building that caught fire has been cancelled. But how were the licences given in the first place? Experts say there was a fault with the building plan, and such a construction should not have been allowed on such a small space. Did the administration turn a blind eye in 1994? In all certainty yes (thanks to the political allegiances of the directors). What did the new regime do in the last seven months to rectify the errors committed by our comrades?
8. The Fire Services Ministry says they had issued warnings to the hospital not to use basement as store room. In an inspection in September, they served a 3 months notice, to empty the basement, to the hospital.The deadline ended on 29 November 2011. Why was no action taken after that?
9. Apart from setting up committees and making new laws, what are the plans of the government to bring all buildings in Kolkata (and Bengal) under fire security blanket? Burrabazar can serve as an example. The buildings there are nothing short of an AMRI or Stephen Court waiting to happen. Political muscle flexing by saffronites and vote bank politics has prevented development of Kolkata’s business and trading hub for long. How far is the govt willing to go to make places like these “safe”?
10. Over the last two decades, Bengal saw a rapid decline in the healthcare facilities in the government hospitals. Hardly any NEW hospital was built by the government in the last decade. Instead private players were allowed to mushroom in this Communist state at will, flouting norms, without requisite accreditation. AMRI exposes the falsehood of “super specialty” hospitals. How does the government plan to bring these defaulters to book?
11. Setting the private hospitals apart, what stops the government from taking adequate measures in government run hospitals too? Infrastructure in these places is far from satisfactory. If a fire emanates out of basement at SSKM (which too is in use a store house) who will our CM put behind bars?
12. Last but not the least, although we have seen marked improvements in the infrastructure of the fire services department in last one year, much needs to be done yet. Lack of preparedness of the fire fighters cost some precious lives on 9 December. Hope that shall not be repeated.
People of West Bengal ushered in a new regime with the hope of change. We all have our hopes pinned on the Chief Minister who set an example of astute administrator in the wake of a tragedy on Friday. The castles of desire that have been built around her, failing the people would amount to the writer of this blog taking up the pen again, in anguish, for failed promises. May God Bless Bengal that we never see such a day.