Q. People say you deliberately mentioned 'bed tea' to divert attention from the attack on Babul Supriyo to yourself. Is that true?
No — I really came down very late.
There is always press in the lobby. I don’t want to be the subject of controversy, so when they asked me about the riots that morning, I truthfully said: ‘I don’t know’ and I didn’t want to tell them more than that.
The truth was that I was late with my tea and I just ran down and I don’t know about the riots.
Normally, I meet my guardians at 4 or so in the evening when I get back from work from different places and I catch up on what’s happening. But, in the morning, there is no one to tell me, I don’t ask either. My guys have a chart and I go out. These four people, they tell me what’s happening, so that I don’t get stressed out. I have been doing six to seven meetings in the evening and three in the morning. I don’t watch TV or read the papers sometime.
I don’t want to divert any attention from Babul to myself because I try not to talk about him. I don’t want to be nasty.
I’m there to do my duty — I do it and I come home.
Q. What kind of bed tea do you like to have?
They make a lovely masala tea with Marie biscuits.
I have got diabetes now.
Q. What do you say to critics who accuse you of a 'Marie Antoinette'-type politics?
Well, I said 'Marie Antoinette' myself, I said: ‘Now they are trying to make me into a Marie Antoinette’ because I said my tea was late.
I did not know about the riots, I did not want to go into that, so I did not know what to say, whatever came into my mind, I said.
I wouldn’t have lasted for five years in Bankura with a Marie Antoinette image though.
'I knew they would call me a Marie Antoinette after I mentioned my bed tea' (Source: Twitter)
Q. What do you have to say about the violence in Asansol?
Just yesterday, someone asked me, what do you think will happen if there is repolling? Well, I said, you will have to keep Babul Supriyo away. The violence is incited, they have had no violence of late — if it happens in the booth that Babul Supriyo is going to, then he has to be under control.
Q. Babul Supriyo has questioned the polling officer in the election booth — what is your view?
Wherever he goes, there is trouble. I don’t want to get into all that.
Q. What do you have to say about the PM's reported remarks on 40 TMC MLAs ready to join BJP after elections?
Well, I know that a lot of our people are in touch with Mukul Roy.
Maybe, based on false reports like that, he has said this. He often says many things and he does not follow them. If you look at his first election manifesto, he hasn’t gone about fulfilling all that — the Ganga hasn’t been cleaned up yet and it can’t be done in five years. His party has so much money, maybe he could buy off everyone — except me!
Some of the MLAs are die-hard supporters of Mamata Banerjee, right from Nandigram days. If they had to go, they could have gone long before the elections. Mukul Roy’s doors are open every day of the year.
Q. PM Modi has also said that Didi is a speed breaker for development?
Maybe he is a speed breaker too — that’s why he can recognise another.
Anyone who travels around Kolkata will not face a speed breaker. Kanyashree, for which she has been honoured by the UN, works for the poor. So, unless you go into the villages, you won’t actually see the real development.
Q. Is BJP making a breach in Didi's West Bengal fortress?
I don’t think they can get into West Bengal now. The Congress is trying to get into the state. I was taken aback when Rahul Gandhi spoke against Mamata. I don’t know why he did that, it was foolish to come to West Bengal and make statements against her.
I don’t think she cares.
'I don't know how many seats TMC will win in Bengal — I do know one seat in Asansol though.' (Source: PTI)
Q. Amit Shah has said that BJP will win 35-40 seats in the state?
He says lots of things — now is the time to find out what he will do or not. Everyone has hopes.
I have no idea of the number of seats TMC will win — but I know, one seat in Asansol.
Q. Mamata Banerjee is accused of playing to the minority gallery and ignoring Hindus. How true is this?
I don’t think she has ignored Hindus and the minorities are also part of Bengal, Muslims, Christians, Jews. All of them have been living here for years and years and surely, you should look after them also and not just the Hindus.
This is something we have never spoken about — but it’s coming up now in a very big and nasty way.
Q Election violence is only growing worse in Bengal. BJP says TMC is copying the model established by the Left. What's your reaction?
Not in Bengal, look at UP, go and see what is happening there. Don’t just bring West Bengal because the elections are here. The speeches have reached a never-before low, there is no nobility in elections anymore.
Q. Would you praise the efforts of the Election Commission in the way they have pulled up politicians during the elections?
Maybe they are right — give them some credit within whatever limits they are allowed to function in.
Also read: My 13 Hours with Rahul Gandhi: How the Congress President left an unforgettable impression