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‘You only serve the party here, not the people

Kabir Suman, the maverick musical genius and activist, who resigned as an MP, tells PARTHA DASGUPTA he rues the state of politics in India

Wasn't your resignation inevitable?

You could say so. I am a product of the peoples' movement. I am a self-proclaimed anarchist. I am a political man by all means but not a man of politics. The Singur-Nandigram uprising brought me to the centrestage of West Bengal's anti-government politics and I was persuaded to contest an election by some well-meaning friends and a large section of the civil society as well as Mamata Banerjee. Everyone thought I was just the right man to function as the 'people's voice' in Parliament. Little did I know then that for a first time MP, to be able to raise a point in Parliament is almost impossible. Add to it the fact that I was continually harassed, humiliated and slighted in public by a section of the Trinamul Congress leadership. I couldn't take it any more. I was losing my identity.

Do you feel that you have let down the many poor people who voted for you?

But I was forced to step down in a way. There is so much infighting in the party and corruption is so rampant, and incompetence at all levels just stares at your face. I am an absolute misfit for the kind of environment I was thrown into. In the 10 months that I have been an MP, I have been able to get some 40 deep tube wells dug in areas that never had access to clean drinking water for decades. But I had to get this done through NGOs. I could not trust the panchayats run by the Trinamool to do the job. There have been instances where I had to bribe panchayat office-bearers to get a development job done. Can you beat that?

Why did your relationship with Mamata sour?

I saw Mamata as a leader of the people. I saw her as the only hope against the CPM atrocities in Bengal. But the moment she scored this spectacular victory in the Lok Sabha elections, I saw her change dramatically. She refused to stand by the poor tribals of the three western districts of West Bengal where they are being subjected to unimaginable atrocities perpetrated by both the CPM and the joint forces in the name of Operation Greenhunt. I could see she did it because she does not consider the tribals as her vote bank. I was shattered. I lost respect for her.

Is it disillusionment with Mamata or a clash of personalities?

This is not the Mamata I knew when we were comrade-in-arms during the peoples' movement. I wouldn't say a clash, but certainly a mismatch in personalities - mine and that of the others in the political system. Politicians are a different breed. I can not speak their language. Certainly not lead their lives...

Their lives?

Politicians eat, sleep and breathe money. They are in the business just to make a fortune. I am a misfit in the system.

Why have you resigned now over an apparently insignificant issue?

It was not insignificant. It was a coordinated effort by the leadership to belittle me in my constituency.

How do you rate parliamentary democracy in India?

I was honestly disappointed. It is not democracy but oligarchy. You only serve the party, not the people. A peoples' representative is a misnomer. I asked [Finance Minister] Pranab Mukherjee if I had the right to dissent with respect to a few policies of the government in spite of being a member of a party that is a part of it. He could not answer my question. I do not see an iota of love in the hearts of our politicians for the people, the country, the environment, the world that we live in. I do not belong here.

(Tehelka, April 2)