|Mamata Banerjee at the interaction with industrialists and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee announcing the film festival schedule on Monday. Pictures by Amit Datta and Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
Calcutta, Nov. 1: Not every day does Mamata Banerjee change the topic when unflattering remarks are made about Writers Buildings.
She did so this evening, displaying a diplomatic nuance rarely seen in the rough-and-tumble of Bengal politics.
Surrounded by industrialists and diplomats who turned up at a festival-season get-together, host Mamata appeared to have steered clear of politics.
She changed the topic and started greeting people when some of the guests started discussing how the files have stopped moving at Writers Buildings, a guest said.
The list of guests included Sanjiv Goenka of the RPG Group, Harsh Neotia of Ambuja Realty, Karan Paul of the Apeejay Group, J.P. Chowdhary of Titagarh Wagons and S.K. Roy of Peerless. Beth Payne of the US consulate and Sanjay Wadhwani of the British deputy high commission also dropped by.
This is the first time the A-list of city industrialists are attending a social function hosted by her. All of them have interacted with her in chamber meetings but their presence at a social gathering proves that the bonhomie is only getting stronger, said a Mamata aide.
Interaction with friends — sometime between Durga Puja and Diwali — is a ritual for Mamata every year. But it has never been on this scale and she was very happy with the turnout, the aide said.
A smiling Mamata greeted the 100-odd guests — representing Calcuttas business community and the consulates — at 27 Ballygunge Road and ensured that each one of them had food.
A select group of aides — Partha Chatterjee, Dinesh Trivedi, Mukul Roy and Derek Brien — were given the responsibility of seeing off the guests after Mamata presented each with a copy of Tagores Gitanjali and an illustration by her. None of the representatives of the culture clan could be spotted at the banquet hall, where she would host a programme for them tomorrow.
It was warm, relaxed and enjoyable, Goenka said.
Mamata stressed she was interested in more such meetings. We dont get to meet that often…. I want to hold such programmes more frequently, she told The Telegraph.
Didi, khub bhalo laglo ekhane eshe (Didi, I really enjoyed coming here), was the farewell message from most guests.
Not bad for a politician whom rivals dub anti-industry. Negative things are said about her…. If people meet her on such occasions, these misgivings go away. Thats why she wants to have more interactions, said an aide.