PM’s Didi-O-Didi Is A Nasty Comment Unacceptable To Women: Sovandeb Chattopadhyay


A famous boxer in his younger days, 77-year-old Sovandeb Chattopadhyay is the quintessential bhadralok of Kolkata and a veteran of his party, the Trinamool Congress. In the ring from Kolkata’s Bhowanipore seat replacing his leader Mamata Banerjee who shifted from here to Nandigram, Sovandeb says the CM chose him as her “best comrade”.

Sovandeb, the state power minister, is not among the leaders who use harsh words against their political opponents as he prefers a civilized campaign. But he does get worked up by the PM’s ‘Didi-O-Didi’ remark on the CM, while in an interview with News18 at his Bhowanipore residence. “PM is blaming our CM in a very critical way which has not been accepted by our female voters. It is a very nasty word, which the PM is using like if he is joking with that. She is the only female CM in the country so he should not have done this, not in this way at least. This is not acceptable.  Modi and Amit Shah are the most important ministers of the country, they cannot speak in this way, any Tom, Dick and Harry can but they cannot. You will see all female voters will support Mamata,” Sovandeb argued.

Asked that the CM is also using harsh words like daanav and duryodhan for the PM, Sovandeb said this is the “after-effect” of the words the PM is using. “Daanav is not a nasty word, it is used in literature also. But as PM has come down to a street-level speech like that, then every action has an equal and opposite reaction,” Sovandeb told News18. The CM held a road show in Bhowanipore for Sovandeb on Sunday. “We will win both seats – Nandigram and Bhowanipore,” Sovandeb quickly adds.

The Bhowanipore Prestige Battle

Posters in Bhowanipore highlight Sovandeb and Mamata and the bond of trust between the two leaders. “This is the seat of Mamata Banerjee for the last 10 years so I have to fight very strongly. I will surely win this constituency. I don’t see any challenge because Banerjee prepared the ground in this constituency by serving it for 10 years and made it easier for me. This seat is also my birthplace,” Sovandeb said. He does know a thing about winning elections. In politics for the last 59 years now, Sovandeb has won his last seven elections consecutively since 1991 and was the TMC’s first MLA by winning Kolkata’s Rashbehari seat in a by-poll in 1998. “This is my eighth election so I have all the experience,” he says. He won Rashbehari till 2016 before shifted to the CM’s seat of Bhowanipore.

Sovandeb, however, says Bhowanipore is also as dear to him as was Rashbehari, a neighbouring seat. “I started my political career in 1962. Since then till 1991, I served this area and people know me very well. I was captain of Indian junior boxing team. People used to call me Boxer Sovan. My college and my school was in Bhowanipore area,” he says. Sovandeb calls BJP’s charge of the CM running away from Bhowanipore as propaganda. “Banerjee is a product of struggle and she started her struggle from Nandigram so when people there requested her to contest from there, she instantly accepted it. She has chosen her best comrade and worker for TMC to win Bhowanipore,” he said.

The challenges – Gujarati, Punjabi Voters, Covid

Bhowanipore is known as a ‘Mini-India’ with a lot of Gujarati and Punjabi voters, which is giving a big chance to the BJP for the first time in this seat this time. News18 spoke to many such voters in Bhowanipore and some of the Gujarati voters did object to Mamata Banerjee criticizing the leaders from Gujarat, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, and her comments that she will not allow West Bengal to become another Gujarat. BJP’s candidate Rudranil Ghosh has been raising this in campaign, in order to rally support of the non-Bengali speaking voters.

“This seat is a mini-India with all religions and castes. All labourers and sweepers belonged to my union earlier and they are my supporters. I have met lot of local Gujaratis to convince them and they say you are a local man so it is better for them to go for me as MLAs are generally not available otherwise,” Sovandeb says.

He says the CM is not critical of Gujarat but “particular men who are criticizing her”. PM is the custodian of the law of India and being the custodian how can he blame someone without proof, Sovandeb asks.

Covid is another challenge with Sovandeb, who himself has recovered from Covid, saying he will not hold any big rallies now on. “EC has not been impartial this time. They are arranging things in such a way that for over one month the election is going on in a Covid situation to help the BJP. They will be responsible if Covid situation goes out of hand. Modi is coming and holding big meetings. I have been in politics for a long time but I have never seen the PM coming nearly every day, he has become a daily passenger of West Bengal. EC is giving opportunity to these leaders for big meetings but we are not able to hold our smaller meetings in the evening as EC’s decision of putting campaigning on hold from 7 pm to 10 am has been done to help the PM and BJP,” he says.

Being a senior leader, News18 asked him what he thinks of the BJP’s dynasty charge against TMC and the projection of the CM’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee. “This is a non-issue, I think. My son is also a youth leader of the party. Children of politicians are inclined to politics. Nothing wrong in it. The future will prove if Abhishek is the future of the party,” Sovandeb said.

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