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Jairam picks Mamata brain

Ramesh,Mamata

Oct. 20: A missing piece in the Indian political jigsaw — the art of writing a “Dear John” letter to estranged partners — fell into place yesterday when Jairam Ramesh started a letter with an innocuous “Dear Mamataji”.

Tucked away in the last paragraph, which was preceded by a typical government announcement that Rs 601.2 crore has been released for the rural job scheme in Bengal, was a nugget that will go down as heresy in bureaucratic annals.

“Incidentally, may I add that this (the funds allotment) reflects how sensitive the so-called ‘brain-dead government in Delhi’ is to the needs of the people of West Bengal,” said the concluding sentence of the letter sent by Ramesh, the Union rural development minister.

The reference was to a statement attributed to Mamata earlier this week, in which she used the vegetative phrase to describe the state of the UPA that she had ditched last month.

With the stroke of the pen, Ramesh appears to have done what few have managed: “stun” Mamata, that too on Sashthi.

Fresh from greeting President Pranab Mukherjee with a rose in Calcutta, Mamata went on Facebook to disclose the thorny letter.

“I am sharing a copy of the letter dated 19.10.12 received from the union minister of rural development….

“I am really stunned to see that a union minister can write a distasteful statement like this to a state government,” Mamata’s post said.

She reminded Ramesh that “releasing funds for the Central schemes is not a matter of charity. This is a pure governmental activity.”

Mamata also invited “public opinion” on the “clearly vindictive, unethical and unconstitutional” comments.

Till 10.30pm, the post had drawn 1279 comments, mostly supporting her.

But Ramesh told The Telegraph in response to a question: “Mamata Banerjee had first used the words ‘brain dead’ and I merely used the same words in my letter.”

Ramesh had written the letter to inform Mamata of the release of the fourth instalment of over Rs 600 crore under the 100-day job scheme.

The letter marks a delayed “Dear John” moment that could terminate the cordial interactions between Ramesh and Mamata. When the Centre was trying to push the new land bill, the Prime Minister had sent Ramesh to explain its provisions to a sceptical Mamata.

The letter does end with a warm touch. Between the two typed word “With regards” are pencilled in two other words “warm personal”, which makes the sign-off line read “with warm personal regards”.

But those familiar with Ramesh’s letters said he lends such a touch to almost all communications.


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