Trinamool Congress Vice-President Derek O’brien tells Kunal Majumder why the CPM will lose the Assembly election
Who is responsible for the violence in Lalgarh?
That is a rhetorical question. It is like asking who is responsible for the genocide during World War II. If you put the question to villagers in Midnapore instead of politicians like me, you will get the answer. I was at Netai village a few days ago, it is an open-and-shut case. The CPM is behind it all.
Is there some truth in the claim that the TMC has joined hands with the Maoists to target CPM cadres?
The CPM uses the Maoist bogey to keep villages ‘safe’. How do they make a village safe? By entering someone’s house and occupying it. Worse still, the villagers have to cook for them and wash their clothes. It still sounds fine until this point. But then they started demanding that villagers should send their boys to be trained in handling weapons! With time, the villagers refused to participate in violence, and paid the price with their lives. We actually saw the house in Netai where the firing took place after the villagers refused arms training. We saw parts of a woman’s scalp stuck to the wall. We saw dried blood. We saw seven graves. About 2,000 villagers held on to us, literally wanting a shoulder to cry on. It was one of the most moving days of my life. So many killed in cold blood.
Aren’t you trying to influence the Union home minister into acting against the West Bengal government?
A group of 8-10 people from Delhi have come to see the effects of this genocide for themselves. Everyone can see it is no longer just a fight between two political parties, it is something else. No words are enough to portray its gruesomeness.
The CPM has offered to sit down with Mamata Banerjee to discuss the issues surrounding the violence. Why is the TMC shying away from it?
There’s no question of talks. We absolutely rule that out. One day you go and kill innocents and the next day you want to talk. This is shameless behaviour. We want peace, West Bengal is yearning for peace. Once there is peace, development will follow.
But, what is the guarantee that violence will stop if the TMC comes to power?
You will not see either the CPM or violence for the next two decades in West Bengal. This is no hyperbole. I promise you, you will see it happening in the Assembly election.
Aren’t you also playing politics? The TMC has been parading the bodies of its activists.
When a student (Swapan Koley, in December 2010) was killed in Kolkata, the chief minister went to place a wreath on his body. Any death is sad. But where were these people when Tapasi Malik was raped and murdered in Singur? Did they place a garland on her? Did they place wreaths on the farmers who died in Nandigram? The people who were brutally massacred in Nanur, did the CPM have time to place flowers on their graves?
We haven’t heard about the TMC policy for governing Bengal. Does the party have a plan beyond its anti-CPM stand?
Everyone can criticise, but eventually you will come to know the truth through the ballot box. Everybody has seen what has been happening in the past one-and-half years. Election after election, the CPM is getting decimated. In another 100 days they will be annihilated.