By Swati Singh
New Delhi: West Bengal under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee has proved that Narendra Modi’s party BJP is not invincible and she has become a rallying point for the Opposition in the country even as she does not eye a national role in politics, Trinamool Congress (TMC) Rajya Sabha MP and former Prasar Bharti CEO Jawahar Sircar said in an exclusive video interview with India News Stream.
Mamata Banerjee has ably demonstrated the energy and fearlessness to take on the “communal forces” despite all odds and the propaganda against her, said Sircar, who is known as staunch Modi critic.
Accusing the ruling party at the Centre of trying to sabotage democracy, Sircar said this party had the ”audacity” to demand President Rule in West Bengal immediately after TMC won elections with 48 per cent votes.
The former IAS officer had resigned from the post of Prasar Bharati CEO in 2016, citing differences with the Modi government on the governance issues.
He said the state has given a winning formula to the opposition for the rest of India. “Tamil Nadu had already shown how to snub the ruling party at the Centre. Kerela has given a two-time victory to Marxists to keep them (BJP) away. But Bengal literally screamed out. They didn’t say ‘please go’. They screamed and said ‘get out’!”
The TMC’s spectacular victory in Bengal, he claimed, has proved that the ruling BJP at the Centre is not “invincible and infallible.”
‘MAMATA RALLYING POINT FOR OPPN,
BUT NOT EYEING NATIONAL ROLE’
Sircar asserted that Banerjee has become a rallying point for the Opposition in the country even as she does not eye a national role in politics.
“Mamata came in with a new dose of energy because she is a street fighter. She won and she became a rallying point. She wants to see a strong alliance which would work as a powerful opposition. In fact, (Congress president) Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s meeting with 18 or 19 political parties on 20th August was unthinkable a year ago,” he said.
“Mamata’s spectacular victory in West Bengal has given a new energy to politics in India. Think of the month of March when it was declared that BJP will win clearly. It was just a matter of 210 or 245 out of 295 seats…Everybody was convinced that it was just a matter of numbers, but then Mamata won and their (BJP’s) nose got cut like that of Sarupnakha in Ramayana and they went back bleeding, not leading. Soon after they ran back, they started screaming – declare President’s rule in Bengal since it is a very dangerous state,” he added.
Asked whether Banerjee can be projected as an alternative to Modi, Sircar said “She is not eying any national role as she is very responsible (leader) and has a lot of work to do”. He said she is ”unlike the man who spent most of his time in Bengal elections and lost the biggest battle to Covid. She hardly comes to Delhi as she has very limited time on her hands. She has her own business cut out, but if she can pass on that spirit of taking them on fearlessly, then we can all get out of the rut we are in”.
‘MINISTERS WANTED TO SUPPRESS
PRASAR BHARATI TO RETAIN POWER’
Observing that he had a very tough time as CEO of Prasar Bharti under the Modi regime, Sircar said, “Almost every minister was saying ‘hamare haath se power nikal gayi, wapis power kheench ke lao’ (We lost our power, get it back for us). Prasar Bharti ko daba ke rakkho (Suppress Prasar Bharati). This is not the spirit in which the Prasaar Bharti Act was enunciated. It was meant for a lot of operational autonomy.
My fellow bureaucrats ensured that not even one inch of operational autonomy was available. If I had kept quiet and had let them lord over me, they all would have been nice to me. But then I had to be loyal to the job I was entrusted with, so it became a very bitter period. But then one has only two choices — either speak out or give in to injustice, I chose the latter,” he added.
‘ED BEING USED TO
Sircar said the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is being used under the Modi government as an instrument to instil terror in the hearts of opposition.
He alleged that Modi is a highly image-conscious person “who is so obsessed with his cultivated, manicured, pedicured, controlled and doctored image that ensures that there is no opposition against him”.
Accusing the Prime Minister of fighting shy of answering tough questions of the media, he said, “How can a person be class apart when he is not able to face a single press conference in seven years. He talks about Mann ki Baat’…if he wants to say ‘Man ki Baat’, why not hold a press conference and do it.”
–INDIA NEWS STREAM