Mullick defends 'hate CPM' speech
|OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT|
Calcutta, April 17: Food minister Jyotipriya Mullick today defended his comments on Sunday when he said Trinamul Congress workers should develop "hatred" for CPM workers, stay away from their houses and not mingle with them at social events.
"Don't sit beside CPM workers to have food at social events. Don't attend a gathering at a CPM leader's house. Don't even have tea with them at the local tea stall," Mullick told a party convention at Habra, North-24 Parganas.
"If you hobnob with the CPM men, it will be difficult for you to take revenge against them because you will become soft towards them," he said. "I would ask you to develop hatred for the CPM. Learn to hate those associated with the CPM."
Today, asked if he did not find his statements contradictory to chief minister Mamata Banerjee's claim that she wanted "change, not revenge" (badal chai, badla noy), Mullick replied: "I am justified in asking my partymen to stay away from social events where CPM men are present. The CPM brutally killed our party activists during its 34 years of misrule. So, if we mingle with them, people won't forgive us. This is why we should avoid them."
What about CPM leader Sujan Chakraborty calling up Trinamul MP Kabir Suman last year when he was undergoing treatment at a government-run hospital, he was asked. Mullick snapped: "Don't tell me about Kabir Suman. We are not in touch with him."
But were his statements not more in line with the CPM's "politics of "aamra-ora (us and them)"?
Mullick denied this. "There has to be a line of demarcation between the CPM and us. While the CPM believes in killings, we believe in the state's development," he said.
"Mamatadi had also a number of times asked us to socially boycott the CPM because of its vindictive politics that claimed the lives of a large number of party activists during the Left Front regime," he said.
Mullick's words don't seem to have gone down well with other Trinamul leaders and workers.
"How is it possible to avoid mixing with CPM people?" asked Utpal Pal, the Trinamul youth president of Murshidabad. "We do visit CPM leaders' homes if we get invitation and CPM men come to our houses. We have good rapport with some CPM people at a personal level," he said.
A Trinamul general secretary tried to downplay the statement and said party leaders "should maintain restraint particularly at a time the media is out to blow everything out of proportion to show us and Mamata in poor light".