15 June, 2021

A Fire-Dweller At The Kiln

A Fire-Dweller At The Kiln

Mamata Banerjee turned 17 on January 5, 1972. The very next month her world came crashing down—her father, Promileswar Banerjee, died on February 9 at PG Hospital, barely a kilometre away from their Harish Chatterjee Street home, at the age of 41. The West Bengal chief minister recalls that he died “because of the lack of medical treatment”. This, her first brush with a callous healthcare system, is what still motivates her to make frequent, unannounced visits to government hospitals after coming to power. Known as Panditmoshai in the neighbourhood, her father was a government contractor, but the family couldn’t pay for his treatment because various departments failed to clear his pending bills. His friends—whom he had gone out of his way to help—didn’t come to his rescue either, rues Mamata. A cheque for Rs 60,000 arrived the day after he died. “The cheque was useless; it couldn’t bring my father back to life,” says the CM. “Only God is witness to our trauma and our struggle for survival after Baba passed...

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