TRIPURAINFO

 

INTERVIEW WITH BADAL CHOWDHURY

“There is nothing against me, but I fear that my official scanned signature may be manipulated by police to frame me in the baseless charges slapped on me as part of political vendetta”, Badal

Fresh from three month long incarceration in jail on flimsy and unproven charges, veteran war-horse Badal Chowdhury is visibly relieved by the bail obtained in high court of Tripura. For a man who has already spent forty years in politics out of which twenty five years as minister, as one-time MP in 11th Loksabha and altogether eight times as MLA storm and stress of political life is nothing new. But as a septuagenarian he is shell-shocked by the treatment meted out to him with a vengeance by the administration and police. Nevertheless, Badal looks forward to the future with a robust optimism, ready to put the past behind him and he spoke his mind to tripurainfo.com. Following are the excerpts.

 

Question: Apparently there is no charge of cognizable offence against you, yet you had to suffer a lot . How do you look at the past three months of your incarceration?

 

Answer: I never expected this thing to happen to me because all that I had done as minister for PWD is above board and irreproachable. All the projects taken up had been completed and the money earmarked for them spent judiciously. There is nothing against any work executed in reports of AG tabled in the assembly and in reports of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) where we had only two members out of eleven and the majority was from the ruling coalition. So, I do not really understand why they are after me, may be this is BJP’s style of political vendetta which the entire country is witness to now.

 

 

Question: What was the most shocking moment over the past three months of incarceration? How did you feel? 

 

Answer: Needless to say, I was shocked beyond endurance and distraught when the police seemed determined not to let even my wife and daughter in the hospital Ward I was in. A group of senior doctors-all members of the Medical Board- had examined me and suggested that I needed to remain admitted to hospital but then the composition of the Board was changed and juniors who comprised it seemed determined from the very beginning to have me shunted out. Then police practically dragged me out of ILS hospital and forcibly brought me to West Agartala police station before pushing me by the neck into the lock-up in an extremely sick condition. Such things are never done to a man of my age and standing. The police had also ridiculously searched more than three hundred houses from Sabroom to Dharmanagar and harassed many people to trace me out though all along I was in Agartala. What was amazing is that four police personnel awaiting retirement were put under suspension only because I managed to speak to media while they were escorting me into the court.Four others including an IPS officer had been suspended for failure to trace me out. I find all this really unbelievable from an elected government. On the last occasion the central jail authority had made me sleep on a cement slab in this health condition without any companion whom I needed and it was only after court intervention that things were changed.

 

Question: What is your response to the charge that you had skirted cabinet on the decision on cost-plus for a number of works? How and why this happened?

 

Answer: Firstly, there was no question of skirting the cabinet because when the need for amalgamating works arose and parties from outside had to be involved the cabinet had given its approval because there was no other alternative to complete the work. Secondly, in this matter then PWD secretary Y.P.Singh and then chief secretary Shashi Prakash had also been part of the decision making process and finally all this was cleared by the Work Advisory Board (WAB). Once a matter is taken up for decision by the WAB no minister or cabinet can intervene. So all the works of 2008-2009 which the present government picked on to frame and victimize me had been initiated and completed through due process with maintenance of quality. It is therefore crystal clear that the present state government deliberately tried to victimize me as part of political vendetta. Besides, I may have been targeted because as PWD minister I had spearheaded all the development works in building and construction in the state for so many years.

 

Question: The trial in your case is yet to begin. What do you think will be the outcome?

 

Answer: Let alone trial, the inquiry authority is yet to file a charge-sheet because there is nothing to fall back upon to file an appropriate charge-sheet. I however fear that my official signature was scanned while in office and the inquiry authority may misuse this now to show it on files that belonged to the much earlier period to frame me, otherwise they will have nothing. I will however fight in court and I have full faith in our judicial system. Moreover, I am convinced that the so-called inquiry authority is also well aware that except relying on cooked up materials they have nothing to nail me in the case, that is why the delay. During past several months I had always appeared whenever called for and had co-operated with the investigation, four times during interrogation in police custody also but during my stint in jail no body had come to interrogate me. I am ready even now to co-operate with inquiry authority as and when they come.

 

Question: What is your assessment of the political situation in the state as well as in the country at large?

 

Answer: I do not think I have to say anything in detail because the common people, the media and all observers are living witnesses to whatever is happening. This government in Tripura had come with tall promises made to people in their so-called ‘Vision Document’. Have they been able to deliver on even a single promise? Where are the mobiles for youths, where is the promised regularization of jobs or a government job by a ‘missed call’? The common people know what is happening and they are preparing to give a befitting reply for all the perfidies being committed. You may have to wait for one more year only and then you will see. At the national level BJP’s core agenda is to convert secular India into a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ and that is what they are working on. Both at the state and central level BJP and governments led by it care neither for constitution, nor law, nor any ethics or morality . They are obsessed with power and how best to misuse it for completing their ‘Hindu Rashtra’ project but the people of the country are waking up to the reality of BJP’s misrule and deception , so they will throw out BJP sooner rather than later out of their own volition.