Full text of conversation between Mamata Banerjee and a municipal chairman at party workers' meet

A viral video shows the chief minister pulling up a party worker for his obesity. The jury is out on whether she was right in body shaming the person or if she diverted attention from his grievances

Mamata Banerjee and the Municipal Chairman
Mamata Banerjee and the Municipal Chairman

Shalini Sahay

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and a party worker, identified as a municipal chairman belonging to Trinamool Congress, had this week a surreal conversation which went viral on social media. People were amused to hear the exchange between the CM and the obese gentleman discussing the latter’s obesity and exercise regimen.

Mamata fans circulated the video clip and claimed that other political leaders should learn from her how to connect with party workers. Her concern for the health of even ordinary party workers, they declared, is exemplary.

Critics however felt the chief minister was trolling or mocking the party worker, seemingly without any provocation. The exchange and media reports, however, indicated that the man was airing grievances which the CM possibly found unpalatable. It was a clever and determined effort by the chief minister to divert attention from the grievances, they maintained.

The truth is that there are several obese ministers in West Bengal. There is also no dearth of obese policemen or bureaucrats. But the chief minister is not known to have shown much concern about their health or body shaming them.

In any case, the hilarious exchange has been entertaining people in the state. For those who do not follow Bengali and those who have missed the video, here is a transcript of the conversation:

MB: The way your belly is expanding, you can drop dead any moment.

MC: No Didi, that is unlikely.

MB: Do you walk or exercise?

MC: I don’t have high sugar or BP.

MB: I am pretty sure you have a liver issue.

MC: No, I have no health issues.

MB: How did your Madhya Pradesh (midriff) get so large then?

MC: I don’t take any medication. That is my record.

MB: Your record is fine, you say ? Do you walk at all ?

MC: I walk every day. I exercise every day for an hour and a half. But I also eat a lot of oily food.

MB: You eat a lot of oily food?...What do you have in the morning?

MC: Pakodi.

MB: Why do you need to eat Pakodis?

MC: It is a habit since my childhood.

MB: If you eat that, your belly will never reduce.

MC: But I exercise daily…

MB: What exercise do you do? Show me.

(MC breathes in and out)

MB: You are doing Pranayam. But it will not reduce your belly.

MC: I also do other Yoga exercises.

MB: That won’t lower your weight. What else do you do?

(MC does Kapalbhati)

MB: How many times do you do it?

MC: A thousand times.

MB: That’s impossible. Demonstrate it here

MC: I will do it in the evening. I haven’t eaten

MB: If you do a thousand Kapalbhatis here in front of me, I will give you 10,000 rupees.

MC: Now and here?

MB: Yes, now here on the stage.

MC: I will do it after 5 pm. The rule is to do it in the morning or after 5 pm. I will show you that I can do it after 5 pm.

MB: I can bet you won’t be able to do it.

MC: I assure you I can.

MB: There’s no way you can do it a thousand times. Or you wouldn’t have a belly this big. You don’t breathe in and out properly. You just do a belly dance. You don’t know how to release your breath properly.

(MC laughs)

MB: Even I do Kapalbhati.

MC: I know you walk 24 kms as well.

MB: It’s none of your business to see whether I am walking or not.

(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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