Filmmaker Aparna Sen takes on TMC govt over panchayat poll violence in West Bengal

Sen said that she advocated for change ahead of the 2011 elections but never sided with West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee directly

Aparna Sen (photo: Getty Images)
Aparna Sen (photo: Getty Images)


Noted filmmaker Aparna Sen on Thursday, July 20, hit out at the TMC government in West Bengal over the violence during the panchayat elections, stating that chief minister Mamata Banerjee cannot evade the responsibility of it.

Speaking at a seminar organised by a human rights group, Sen said she was looking at the state of affairs helplessly "like everyone else".

"The state government and you (CM Mamata Banerjee) are responsible for this lawlessness. The state election commission and central forces have to depend on local police and administration. As the home minister of the state, you cannot in any way evade your responsibility," she read out from an open letter addressed to the chief minister in Bengali.

"I am shocked. I am looking at the state of affairs helplessly like everyone else. Our words of protest mean little," she later told reporters.

Sen was at the forefront of the intelligentsia that campaigned for a change in the government ahead of the 2011 assembly elections, helping the Trinamool Congress to oust the Left Front that ruled the state for 34 years.

"Yes we had asked for change, but this is not the change we had looked for," she said.

"What the left had done at that time was very unfair and unjust. Groups of armed men used to roam in villages during elections. We had seen those things and haven't forgotten. But what is happening now, we don't want that," she added.

Answering a question, Sen said that she advocated for change ahead of the 2011 elections but never sided with Banerjee directly.

"I did not agree to meet her personally, though many wondered whether I am a revisionist. They had argued that she was the main force to usher in change, to dislodge the earlier regime but I did not share the stage with her," she said.

Asked about sharing the stage with Banerjee in state-sponsored programmes later, she said, "If I am invited to a film-related programme at an auditorium like Nandan, which is not the fiefdom of Mamata Banerjee but built with taxpayer's money, should I not attend? If I am seated next to her, what can I do?"

Reacting to the comments, TMC Rajya Sabha MP Santanu Sen said the filmmaker may have forgotten the panchayat elections of 2003 and 2008 when the Left Front was in power in the state.

"The number of casualties was much higher and mainly supporters of then opposition TMC and Congress were killed. But, this time the situation is completely opposite as the highest number of deaths were from the ruling party," he told PTI.

The CPI(M), Congress and the BJP joined hands to hatch a conspiracy, he alleged.

"Aparna Sen being a part of the intelligentsia should get her facts right before making such comments," he added.

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Published: 21 Jul 2023, 12:50 PM