Translated excerpts from transcripts of the conversation conducted largely in Hindi:
Mitthu (a property broker): He (the reporter) has a property here… G + one and a half. He wants to develop it. So I asked him if he wants to do on his own or will prefer somebody else does it for him?
Manju: Who is the landlord?
Mitthu: He is the landlord.
Manju: What is the address?
Reporter: APC Road. Mitthu bhai has seen the place.
Mitthu to Manju: It is behind the eye hospital. Now you know where it is? He wants to develop it. So we can give him our people who can construct it for him.
Reporter: We are into some other business altogether. So we have very little knowledge of construction. What I want to know is how do I proceed in this case? We are not even local people.
Manju: OK, you don’t stay here but you have a property here? There is a lot of construction happening in the ward….
Manju: Hmmm…do you have bad relations with your tenants?
Reporter: With a couple of them.
Manju: Some of the problems you can face from the tenant is they have not changed the bills till now. The first tenant has died and so on. They may create problem. You may have to fulfil their demands. So if the promoter is a political person, he will handle all the local problems. If we do it, we will handle the police, the party…. Sabka package rahega. (Everyone will have a package)
Manju: Suppose I am the promoter. We will get into an agreement. What will both of us get?
Reporter: The land is slightly more than 2 cottahs. On that sort of space, what planning should be done? What sort of permission will I get?
Manju: You will not have to do anything. You will completely depend on me. I will get the financiers. I will get the engineer from the corporation. Will get the space measured. After that, we will sit across the table.
|Khalid Basar Choudhuri (Manju) outside the CMC health and community centre at Rajabazar on December 17.
Picture by Zeeshan Jawed
Reporter: But before that I want to understand what sort of local resistance we can encounter?
Mitthu: Arre, yeh **** (an elected post) ka PA hai. (This is the elected representative’s PA.)
Manju: I can handle your tenants in your absence also or in your presence also. You give me the authority. In the agreement, you will have to tell us how much you will give us. For example, it is 1,800sqft. You will give us 1,000sqft or 800sqft. I will calculate everything on the market price. I will see what will be my cost while handing you over the keys. We will have to sort all these things out.
Reporter: Yeah. That we will sort out.
Manju: Good. After these preliminary talks are over, we will move to the next table. There we will discuss how much we have to give.
Reporter: So this (where we are sitting) is person’s office? You know something. This is our biggest fear because we are not local people. We have land here.
Manju: See, there are two types of people. You are into garments business so you will know. Honest and cheats. If you get hold of a broker and construct, you may face some problems. But if you come to somebody like us who are political people, the work will not stop. After all, we have to stay in this ward for at least another two and a half years.
Reporter: Two and a half years? What does that mean?
Manju: It means the **** (person holding the elected post) is mine, who will be here for at least another two and a half years (next CMC election is in 2015). So it is my era. In Bengal, Trinamul has four more years left. Till the writ of the leader whose blessings I enjoy runs, all my wrongs will be forgiven. By adjusting myself to that person, I can do all right and wrong deeds…. So, in our second stage, we will take the next **** (elected person) into confidence.
Reporter: What do you mean by the person?
Manju: The ****(person holding the elected post). We have to take (the person) into confidence. Without (the person’s) permission, we cannot even place a brick here. Even if anyone has to open any shutter, we ask him if the (person holding the post) has given permission or not. We let people do these things for a small amount. We are lenient. But as far as promoting is concerned, it is one type of business. When I invest to construct your building, I will provide labourer, I would like to have the NOC (no-objection certificate) from your entire family.
Reporter: There should not be a problem. You will not face any problem from our side.
Manju: That is great. Then do not worry about any local problem. There will be no problem at all. We will handle it. Dawood Ibrahim will not call that we will get scared. On papers even Osama bin Laden is also not alive. Get one thing straight. Abhi police sabse bara goonda hai, politician sabse bara goonda hai. Politician high-power goonda hai jo chota chota goonda ko nigal jaata hai. (Now police are the biggest goonda of them all. So is the politician. The high-power politician goonda swallows the small fry.) The police are also manageable.
Reporter: So, do you promise me you will handle all these problems?
Manju: Police aur corporation sab hum handle karenge. As long as you people do not have disputes within your family.
Reporter: Do not worry. All of us will sit. But we are very scared of local problems.
Manju: Arre, hum yahan ka political local hai. Resident bhi hai.
Reporter: So you are with the ruling party?
Manju: Of course. You just saw the ****(person with the elected post) leave. I have to perform all the responsibilities on (the person’s) behalf.
Reporter: So you are everything here?
Manju: Ji. Sab kaam hum karte hain unka naam use karke. (Yes, I do all the work on the person’s name.) You know it well since you yourself are a businessman.
Reporter: So do I have to give money to the ****(elected representative) separately or you will manage person?
Manju: That is not your lookout. (The person holding the post) bhi lega. Police bhi lega. Hum bhi lenge. (The person also will take. The police also will take. I will also be taking.) But you do not worry about it. If you come to an understanding with me, if you give me authorisation, then its completely my headache. I give (the person) Rs 10 or Rs 1,000. Whatever the demand, I will deal with it. What you have to decide is how many floors you want on your property. I don’t promise to make your place Shahid Minar. Hum log ka **** (elected representative) jitna bhi building bana raha hai sab mazboot hai. It is just like legal buildings. Ten years ago, the construction that happened were all for money. Not very strong. Now nobody can do construction here because we are the new authorised groups. Koi aur banayega to hum log disturb denge. Kyonki humi log yahan ka goonda hai, hum log ka **** (an elected post) hai. Aap direct mere paas aaiye. (If anyone else develops, we will disturb. Because we are the goondas here, it is our (post). Come to me directly.) If we agree on it, I will take the entire burden. I will make a strong structure so that you also earn some money and I also earn some money. I will finance it. If there are any discrepancies in your documents, the corporation will rectify it. We will do it for free since we are taking up the project. Larka log free labour de raha hai. Isiliye promoting kar raha hai. (The boys are giving free labour. That is why we are promoters.)
Reporter: You will also check the documents?
Manju: Yaar, corporation ka **** (influential) person hum log ke saath hai. (Friend, the influential person in the corporation is with us.)
Reporter: The person comes here everyday?
Manju: Yes. Had he (Mitthu) not told me that you are coming, I would have left with **** (a term of respect for the person). (The person) is a political leader. Attends so many programmes all over the city. It affects (the person’s ) image if (the person) alights from the car alone.
Reporter: Where does the person sit?
Manju: In the corporation office. (Mitthu joins the conversation. Manju and Mitthu have a brief argument about the location of the person’s office in the CMC. Manju has the last word: it is close to the mayor’s room.)
Reporter: Chaliye, will take your leave. Will talk to you either today evening or tomorrow morning.
Manju: See, I don’t want to praise myself but you should think that till now you were sitting with the (person holding the elected post). Just think that what I spoke are the words of the (person holding the elected post).
Reporter: Good that I did not come through any middleman.
Manju: Had you come through somebody else, the **** (a party post) would have extracted money from you.
Reporter: Have you always been with the Congress? Oh, sorry, I meant TMC?
Manju: Jab Congress takatwar tha tab Congress karte the. Abhi TMC hai, to TMC. Jaisa waqt waisa. (When the Congress was powerful, with the Congress. Now with TMC. In tune with the times.)
Reporter: But I don’t think you have a party post yet?
Manju (smiles): See, if I start showing my posts… I am general secretary of the youth wing…
Reporter: It was so nice meeting you. I will call you. We will meet again.
Reporter to Mitthu on way out: I am just asking you. He was bragging so much that he is close to the (person with the elected post). Is he telling the truth or bluffing me?
Mitthu: He is the PA, yaar. I am telling you, na. Did you not see that person leave when you arrived?
Reporter: Oh, (was that the person)?
Mitthu: Yeah. It was.