Translated excerpts from the recorded conversation which was mostly conducted in Hindi
Sonkar: So that place belongs to you?
Reporter: Yes, my father has purchased it.
Sonkar: Is that the same place? That 10-storied building that is coming up? At the crossing.
Sonkar: So you want break the entire place and re-build a new place.
Reporter: See, we do not belong to the construction line. We are into garments. We want to rebuild that place and shift our Calcutta operations to that place. That will be our wholesale and retail hub.
Sonkar: You will do it yourself.
Reporter: Yes. We do not have experience
Sonkar: So we will have to demolish the existing place and build a new one?
Sonkar: How many cottahs?
Reporter: 4.5 cottahs and a few chattaks
Sonkar: Is it in your father's name?
|Dilip Sonkar at what he claimed was the Trinamul Congress office on
Ganpat Bagla Road, Burrabazar, on December 11, 2012
Reporter: Yes. It is.
(A visitor to the party office interrupts the conversation)
Sonkar: So, first you show me the place.
Reporter: Yes. That I will do.
Sonkar: Your work will be done… should I remodel the entire place and add more space or do new construction? We can get a brand-new plan made also. Tell me what do you want from me?
Reporter: Ok. Let me tell you now. There are three tenants. Who will manage them? Tell me.
Sonkar: Hmmm. So there are three tenants. What are they saying?
Reporter: They do not want to move from there. They pay Rs 30-Rs 32 as rent.
Sonkar: Are they paying the rent or no?
Reporter: My accountant is handling all this. I am not very sure about it. I will get back to you on this. You tell me one thing. What will be our modus operandi? Help us. First, I went to another person in Burrabazar. But he said he does not work here.
(A person sitting in the office joins the conversation)
Third person (gesturing towards Dilip Sonkar): Arre, yeh to ward ke president hain. (This is the ward president.)
Sonkar: I want to say. Woh area **** (a former MLA from Trinamul) ka area hai. Wahan ki MLA **** (name) hai. (That area — where the fictitious property is supposed to be located — is the former MLA’s area. The MLA now there is ****.)
Sonkar: Matlab 10 councillor ka ek guardian. Bara hai woh. (Means the guardian of 10 councillors. The person is senior.)
(He gestures and conveys to the reporter to get up and have a look at a collage of pictures pinned on a soft board in the party office.)
Sonkar: This is **** (MLA’s name). This is me. This is **** (former MLA’s name).
(Back to the seats)
Sonkar: Now we can take up issues one by one. Should we manage the tenants and get them out?
Reporter: Yeah. Please advice me on that.
Sonkar: You give me the name of the tenants and their addresses.
Reporter: I will provide you with everything.
Sonkar: Also how much rent they are paying? Give me that also. Aur doosra baat hai, hum apna MLA ko bolke unko bulwayenge. Hum apna MLA ko bolke, jab aap humko boliyega kaise aage barhna hai, hum bolenge, ‘dada ektu, hamara paas aisa ek aadmi aaya hai. Sare char cottah unka pitaji, Rakesh ji, wo jagah kharida hai. Woh usko banana chahte hain’. Teen tenants log ko paisa deke rafu chakkar karana hai. (There is another matter. I will tell my MLA and get him over. I will tell my MLA when you tell me how to move ahead. I will tell the MLA: ‘A person has come to me, his father has bought four cottahs. He wants to develop it’. The three tenants will be given money and packed off.”
(Sonkar’s cell phone rings and goes silent. He calls back the person and says: ‘Don’t give missed calls. I am a very busy man. My time is important.”)
Sonkar: I will get you to speak to the former MLA. You can meet also. He is everything here. All in sole. On whose name the light burns here.
Reporter: On whose name?
Sonkar: **** (Former MLA’s name.) On his word, the MLA/councillor will extend all help. We will call the tenant. (The former MLA) will tell him: ‘please take the money’. He (the tenant) will demand Rs 50 lakh. We will give Rs 15 lakh. I will get you to meet Dada (former MLA). If you meet, you will be convinced that your work will be done, that Dada will get your work done.
Sonkar: But for this, some expenses have to be undertaken. All this takes money. You have spent crores buying the property. To evict them also money will have to be spent. The councillor is there. MLA is there. All will take money. Without money, no one will do the job.
Sonkar: Think about this. Why should he be bothered? The work is yours. Your products will be made. You make profits. The tenant will be called and told: ‘Come, **** (former MLA) is calling you’. Dada unko thora sa chamkayega thora sa dhamkayega. (Dada will scare him and threaten him a bit)…. Suppose somebody says Rs 50 lakh. (Former MLA) usko 10 lakh ya 20 lakh mein rawana karega (The former MLA will make them leave for 10 lakh or 20 lakh). Suppose we find out somebody’s portion is valued at 2 lakh. Why would we pay him 2 lakh? We will give him 50,000. If someone has property of 5 lakh, why should we give 5 lakh. We will give them 3 lakh, no 2 lakh. So, eviction of tenants requires expenditure. First we will have to drive out the tenant. What sort of space are they occupying?
Reporter: In total, 450sqft. Three rooms of 150sqft.
Sonkar: Oh! We will call the tenant. We will ask them about their demand. How much are they demanding?
Reporter: Arre, that is the problem Sonkar bhai. They don’t want money. They are saying they will not vacate the place. Otherwise, there was no problem at all.
Sonkar: Nahi chorenge? We will try to drive them out. If they don’t go, we will shift them elsewhere. So that work progresses. But you will have to spend money there. See, the MLA will call them. So they will naturally get scared, why has the MLA called us. Now when the space is vacated we will call the engineer and LBS (local building surveyor) from the corporation and ask them what we can do about it. We will tell them to do away with the mandatory space that has to be left out. They will help us in that.
Reporter: What sort of permission will I get?
Sonkar: That only the engineer will tell us. Don’t worry. We will make sure your land will not go waste. We can also do one thing. We will take permission for repairing. On the sly, we will make a new building. It will be a re-construction only in name. The entire building will be brand new. There are lots of ways. Don’t you worry, yaar. I will tell you the rates. Whether it is 2,000 or 1,800, 1,500. This will be the money you will pay for the finished product. You will just have to switch on the light and enter the building. We will provide marble for the floor and paint the walls.
Reporter: So, this rate will include the share of everybody na? Your local MLA, local MP and councillor?
Sonkar: Yes. 2,000 (per sqft) should be enough for all.
Reporter: But what about the police? They will create problems.
Sonkar: Arre, why should you worry about the police. That is our job. Humlog police ko dekhlenge. If we face some problem anywhere we will tell you to pay something extra. Maybe another Rs 200. But that will be at a later stage once we form a good relationship amongst ourselves.
Reporter: Oh, yes. Even I want that.
Sonkar: We will be meeting more often. 10 times or 15 times. We will come to know each other well. The relationship will progress and we will be able to know each other well. If we do this work well and you are satisfied, you will help me get more work. After all, it is going to be a long relationship.
Reporter: Now I have a question. I have heard there is some lal (red) party here…
Sonkar (cuts short): Listen, please get this lal party and peela (yellow) party out of your mind.
Reporter: But I have heard that without their permission, you cannot do anything?
Sonkar: See, you are a businessman. These parties should not matter to you. Whichever party comes to power, you have to get your work done and get out. Businessmen have a rule. If I am in the government, you should keep me happy. If he (gesturing towards a person) is in the government, you should keep him happy. You don’t have to fight with anybody. You have to do business. You will pay 80 paisa to the ruling party and 20 paisa to the Opposition. That is the only difference.
Reporter: See, I don’t have to do anything with any party…. But I am quite scared of working in Calcutta after seeing in the news what all is happening here…
Sonkar: Why are you scared? Arre, we will get into an agreement. We will work according to the agreement. Work will start a month later. In the interim, we have to drive out the tenants, meet the former MLA. This has to be done now. This way you will develop trust in me. We will be meeting five to 10 times. We will move ahead step by step.
(The third person joins the conversation again)
Third person: Why are you taking headache? You just show the money. They will take care of everything.
Reporter: Sounds convincing. But still I am a little apprehensive.
Sonkar: I do not understand why. When the MLA and councillor are involved, you will have to show some trust in them. I will tell the MLA that ‘see, this is the person who has bought the property’. There are tenants. Please tell them to vacate. Whatever money you want, these people (the owners of the property) will pay. They are agreeing to that. The work will progress. With your own eyes you will see the councillor, MLA will call the tenants. You will be there at the spot. They will probably say that they want space in the same building. If that is the case, they will have to sacrifice some share according to civic norms. If somebody is occupying 50 sqft, they will get 30sqft or 20. We will give them the option to take the money and do their setting elsewhere. (His phone rings) I am making a building in Balram Street. Another one in Girish Park…
Reporter: You seem to have experience in construction…
Sonkar: Of course. Arre this is the party office. I have another office. My business office is in Girish Park. Yahan hamara neta wala chehra hai. Wahan hamara businessman wala chehra hai. (Here I have a neta’s face. There I have a businessman’s face.)
I will call you there. You will come and see I have my own engineer and staff. I have all the setting. The office is very close to the property you have purchased. I will call you there. You will see for yourself. Yeh to party office hai (This is the party office.) I have a catalogue there of all the buildings we have constructed. Jaise yahan neta ka photo hai waise hi wahan building ka photo hai album mein. (Just like we have photos of leaders here, photos of buildings are there in the album.) I will give you the address of a few buildings. You can go there and inspect yourself. So there is no reason for you to be apprehensive. And all dealings will take place in that office.
Reporter: Yeah…. I am sure it will be a professional atmosphere there, unlike this place.
Sonkar: Haan…haathi ka daant khane ka kuch aur aur dikhane ka kuch aur. Kaam aapka sab Girish Park wale office mein hoga. Woh hamara business office hai. Yeh to party office hai. (Two facades for two purposes. All work will be done at the Girish Park office. This is the party office.) You please don’t take stress.
Reporter: Yeah. One day we will go there…. Everybody would want a little extra. Won’t there be any problem here?
Sonkar: Woh hum sab dekh lenge. Problem kya hoga? Koi problem nahi hai. (All that I will take care of. What problem will occur? No problem is there.)
(The third person joins the conversation again)
Third person: Arre, yeh local aadmi hai. TMC ka ward president hai. Iske liye kya problem hoga? (This is a local man. He is the ward president of TMC. What problem will be there for him?)
Reporter: I will make you speak to my father.
Sonkar: But I will not talk about any money over phone. Listen to me.
Sonkar: Now tell me when will you come to me? Hum aapka MLA, councillor se meeting karwa denge. Jaisa aap boliyega waisa khela sajadenge. (I will arrange a meeting with the MLA and councillor. The game will be set just the way you want it.) How much have you bought the property for?
Reporter: I will tell you everything at the right time. I don’t want to disclose everything now.
Sonkar: Mera baat suniye. Aap teen-char peti kharcha kijiye mere baat par. Jahan jahan dena hai wahan dijiye. Jahan jahan hum bolenge wahan wahan packet dijiye. Uske baad mazaa dekhiye. Suniye, hum aap ka kaam karenge hum yahan paisa nahi lenge. Hamara ek business ka office hai. Girish Park mein. Wahan pe lenge. (Listen to me. You spend Rs 3 to 4 lakh on my word. Wherever you have to give, give there. Wherever I ask you to give, give the packets there. After that, watch the fun. Listen, I will do your work but I will not take money here. I have a business office in Girish Park. I will take it there.) Take my number.
Reporter: I have taken it.
Sonkar: Aap humse kab baat kariyega? Phone pe ekdum paisa ka koi baat nahi karenge. Aur sab baat karlenge. Lekin paisa nahi karenge. (When will you call? Don’t at all speak about money on the phone. All else can be discussed. But not about money.)
Reporter: We will not discuss money over the phone.
Sonkar: So you are returning on Saturday? In the evening? Then do one thing. Keep it on Sunday. At 11am. I will make you meet the MLA. Time karke hum aapko phone kardenge ( I will fix the time and phone you.) But don’t forget to get ‘that’.
Reporter: How much should I be ready with?
Sonkar: Motamoti 4 leke chaliye. Aap dijiye to phir kaam hota hai. (Come with around 4 lakh. You give that and work will be done.)
Reporter: I don’t have a problem but my work should be done.
Sonkar: Arre, aap mera baat suniye. Theek se packet dijiye, phir dekhiye. Ab hum apne moonh se apna kya tareef karein. Ek baar aap MLA se baat kijiyega tab hi aapko samajh ajayega. Aur hum MLA ko kya denge woh bhi aap dekh lijiyega. Aapke samne peti pakrayenge. (Listen to me. Give the packet properly and then see. How can I praise myself? Once you talk to the MLA, you will be convinced. And what I give the MLA, that also you can see. The peti (cash bundles of Rs 1 lakh each) will be handed over in front of you.) You will be sure I am not keeping it. Aapke samne usko haath mein pakrayenge. (In front of you, it will be handed over) Tab aap nischint ho jayenge. Aapko malloom par jayega ke mere ghar mein nahi ja raha hai. (Then your worry will disappear. You will realise that the money is not going to my home.)
Sonkar: Hum aapse ek lakh maang lenge. MLA do liya woh aapko malloom par ja raha hai samne. Usse to hum wapas paisa nahi lenge. MLA lega to aapka haath se lega. Hum khud aapse bolega ke humko ek lakh dedijiye. Hum aapko khud bolenge. Theek hai na. Aap khud dekhlijiyega. Aapko malloom hoga na ke kaam ho raha hai. Tenant log ko samne bulake faisla karayega MLA. (I will take 1 lakh from you. MLA will take 2 lakh, that you will know. If MLA takes, it will be from your hand. I will personally tell you to give me 1 lakh. I will tell you personally, all right? You will see for yourself. You will know that your work is getting done, isn’t it? The tenants will be called and the matter will be settled by the MLA.)
Reporter: Ok. I will call you on Saturday evening (four days hence) and fix it up.
Sonkar: If possible, call up before that.
Reporter: Ok. Namaskar.
(The reporter broke off contact here as Sonkar was expecting Rs 4 lakh at the next meeting.)