"I am man of the chief minister. I am the government."
Calcutta, Dec. 11: These immortal lines were uttered by a voice resembling that of the deputy Speaker of the Bengal Assembly.
The deputy Speaker of the Bengal Assembly is Sonali Guha, a hovering and inseparable presence near Mamata Banerjee before she became chief minister.
Sonali is not a man. In fact, no man in contemporary Bengal can claim "I am the government". Even Indira Gandhi did not dare say "India is Indira, Indira is India" - a Congress acolyte had done so decades ago.
Some of the other utterances attributed to the voice are decidedly less parliamentary. A sample: " Koi baap ka aulad nahi hai ke ake tumhara flat ka chabi khole. (No father has sired a son who can get your flat unlocked.)"
The language, which traces its roots to a foul-mouthed repertoire associated with Mamata of late, was unleashed on Wednesday night over a lift dispute at a private apartment building in Howrah.
Deputy Speaker Guha allegedly rushed to the apartment and dared the president of the housing society to lodge a police complaint against her Rakhi brother who had complained against a bar on the use of the elevator between 11pm and 7am to cut power bills.
Ved Prakash Tiwari,whose wife is expecting, feels the lift curfew will be an impediment in an emergency. After a fight with Nagendra Rai, a homoeopath and the society's president, Tiwari called police.
Around 1.30am, Guha arrived on the scene to intervene in what is essentially a private matter - something the Left used to do when in power and Trinamul has tried out earlier in a Park Street highrise.
Some of her supporters had reached along with personnel from the Golabari police station earlier. The supporters allegedly beat up Rai.
Guha said Rai was a BJP supporter and allegedly told him: "You gave medicine to Madan (Mitra).... The CBI will catch you too."
Guha has not denied interfering in the quarrel and repeated the gem "I am man of the chief minister" today.
But the deputy Speaker claimed that the voice on an audio clip (excerpts of which are given above) was "dubbed" - and drew a parallel with actor Uttam Kumar.
Trinamul secretary-general Partha Chatterjee said in a statement this evening: "Incident of Sonali Guha has come to our notice. Mukul Roy, Subrata Bakshi, Subrata Mukherjee and I will decide course of action."
What is heard
In the audio clip recorded by Rai's son, a voice similar to Guha's says: "Aapka CCTV rakhne ka koi aukat hi nahi hai. Aapka CCTV rakhne ka koi aukat nahi hai. CCTV kahan kahan rakhte hain, aapko malum hai? (You don't have the stature to install a CCTV. You don't have any standing to keep a CCTV. Do you know where CCTVs are kept?)" She also referred to the home secretary while threatening to get the CCTV "cancelled".
The police usually recommend installing CCTVs as a basic safety device that helps in prevention as well as detection of crime at apartment complexes.
Sources said the only crime this CCTV appeared to have committed was to capture the fight outside Rai's house. But Guha is not seen on the footage as she was on the road outside.
The CCTV camera in question is placed above the door to Rai's flat on the third floor. Its coverage area includes the staircase and the landing although Guha said "he is watching even when people are bathing and changing...."
In the clip, the outburst about " koi baap ka aulad" and "I am man of the chief minister" follows.
The voice signs off with a dare. "Kisiko bulana hai, hum yahan pe khara hai. Char baje tak, paanch baje tak aapko kisiko bulana hai bulaiye, aap bulaiye aapka koi BJP bhai hai to bulaiye... zyada bholapan mat dikhaiye. (If you want to call anyone, I am standing here. Till 4, till 5, if you want to call anyone, call. If you have a BJP brother, then call. Don't try to act too innocent).
The Rais, who have been living in Howrah for over 25 years, denied any connection with the BJP. Any political connection, in any case, is immaterial.
On Thursday afternoon, Guha said: "There is no consensus among the residents on installing CCTV inside the building. He (Rai) is monitoring movements of others.... He is watching even when people are bathing and changing...."
Residential amity and alleged voyeurism do not fall in the business of the deputy Speaker. Guha, too, appeared to confirm as much.
"I did not go there as deputy Speaker. I went there as a woman and as a mother to protect another woman. A pregnant woman was being heckled by the BJP and the Bajrang Dal. This is Bengal, not Delhi or Gujarat.... Our leader Mamata Banerjee has taught us to stand by the people," she said.
Referring to the clip, Guha added: "My voice has been dubbed. Even Uttam Kumar's voice was dubbed after his death in Ogo Bodhu Sundari (the star's last film that was completed after his death)."