In Bolpur, TMC Leader Anubrata Mandal Speaks in Ominous Metaphors

Strongman Mandal has been utilising a new language that’s now finding favour in the ruling party, writes Rajat Roy.

5 min read
In Bolpur, TMC Leader Anubrata Mandal Speaks in Ominous Metaphors

In Santiniketan, Tagore’s Abode of Peace, the poet had experimented with an alternative model of education different from the existing colonial one.

Sitting at Bolpur, barely three kilometers away from Tagore’s Santiniketan, another person has started a new experiment with the Bengali language that is fast becoming the language of the ruling party. He is Anubrata Mondal, district president of the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) party.

Anubrata first entered the limelight with his speech urging his cadres to attack and set on fire the homes of opposition party candidates during the Panchayat elections in 2013.

As the video footage of his speech was telecast by vernacular news channels, TMC leaders in other districts started picking up the language fast. A few days later, Anubrata’s followers attacked the house of an independent candidate, Hriday Ghosh, and shot dead his father, Sagar. The police registered a case of murder, but Anubrata’s name was kept out of it.

When the opposition and media started raising questions, Mamata Banerjee came to his rescue. Taking part in a debate in the state legislative assembly, the chief minister gave a character certificate to Anubrata and praised him lavishly.

Anubrata is a fine boy. But he has a medical problem, he suffers from oxygen deficiency in his brain, that is the root cause behind his irresponsible utterances.
Mamata Banerjee
Mamata Banerjee thinks Anubrata Mondal suffers from an “oxygen deficiency in his brain.” (Photo: IANS)

Conversation Laced With Metaphors

Sitting in his home in Bolpur town on Tuesday night, Mondal told this correspondent that that notorious speech was actually a slip of the tongue.

Taking a cue from his leader Mamata Banerjee, he instructed his cadres to spread the message to voters who were suspected to have allegiance to the opposition parties, ‘’Do not go to cast your vote. Keep it in mind that the central forces would be here for a few days only. But we will be here even after that.’’ His speeches attracted a cautionary note from the Election Commission, but he is undaunted.

Now he speaks in metaphors. “Have you seen magic by PC Sircar? He used to vanish a lot of things from the stage. Vanish. Everything will be vanished on 17 April.’’ After waiting for some time to see if the significance of his metaphor is understood by the journalist, he elaborates:

During CPIM rule, when Jyoti Basu and later Buddhadev Bhattacharjee were at the helm of the affairs, the poll days used to be full of violence, with frequent use of bombs and guns. But in the evening, the Left leaders used to claim that nothing had happened. Magic! Everything would vanish, though the next morning the newspapers would be full of reports of violence. On 17 April this year you will see magic again. Everything will be vanished.
Anubrata Mondal

Is it not a fact that those people who were instrumental in creating the magic, with guns and bombs in hands, are now mostly with the TMC?

He candidly admits, ‘’Not all, but most of them are with us now.’’ After a pause, he hurriedly adds, ‘’But they have all come over to us after realising that they needed to be involved with our development programme.’’

Anubrata Mondal says that just like in the days of the CPIM, when Jyoti Basu was at the helm, they will ‘vanish’ news of violence on poll days. (Photo: Reuters)

Violence in TMC Regime

Despite this bravado, Anubrata started fumbling for words when it was pointed out that in his districts, a lot of killings took place in the last five years, mostly as a result of infighting in his own party.

When pressed for a direct answer, he started counting deaths: one there, three in Nanur, two in Khairasol, two in Rampurhat... altogether 11 deaths took place because of intra-party clashes. The opposition claims the number would be much more.

In 2014-15, a number of violent clashes took place between the BJP and the TMC activists. But Anubrata rules out the existence of BJP in Birbhum. ‘’There is no BJP here, they are all hardcore CPIM people. They took shelter under the BJP flag, and now they are going back to CPIM.’’

There is some truth in this. People in Sattor, a village near Bolpur, that joined the BJP en mass from CPIM and put up a stubborn fight against the TMC for months there, have now gone back to CPIM.

But the cause of Anubrata’s growing discomfiture comes from another TMC leader, Kajal Sheikh. He is the ruling Bahubali of Nanur, who dares Anubrata to enter his area. There are some policemen guarding Anubrata’s Bolpur residence, who screen all visitors. Though a party functionary, he moves around with police escorts.

People in Bolpur say that these measures are mostly to protect him from Kajal Sheikh’s henchmen. Nanur, once known for Chandidas, a famous Vaishnavite poet of medieval period, is now known as a killing field where the internecine battle continues.

Anubrata Mondal will ‘vanish’ news of violence on polling day. (Photo: IANS)

A Dreadful Figure

A man with little formal education (according to him, he did not pass his school leaving examination), Anubrata appears to live a small-town life. Wearing eight rings with precious stones on his fingers, he confesses that he has a weakness for astrology.

He also claims to be very religious. “I am a great devotee of Goddess Kali, Ma Tara and Durga.’’ A professor (who does not want to be identified) of Visva Bharati, who has known Anubrata for years, sarcastically observed:

While Birbhum was the land of poet Chandidas and Tagore – both were known for their humanistic thinking – it was also the land of Shakti or Tantra cult. Tarapeeth, Kankalitala, and Nalhati are some of the famous seats of the Tantra cult in Birbhum. Tradition had it that the ritual use of dead bodies as a means to achieve spiritual gain was closely associated with the Tantra cult. Now those practices are gone. Anubrata is perhaps a modern-day practitioner of that forgotten cult.

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