‘BJP’s politics is about hurting people’: Sujata Mondal 

The TMC candidate for Bishnupur says the people have received nothing from her opponent and ex-husband Saumitra Khan in the past 10 years.

Published : May 09, 2024 18:37 IST - 7 MINS READ

Sujata Mondal says she is contesting this election as a local girl and a daughter of Bishnupur.

Sujata Mondal says she is contesting this election as a local girl and a daughter of Bishnupur. | Photo Credit: Jayanta Shaw

The Bishnupur Lok Sabha constituency has been one of the more talked-about seats in the ongoing general election. With former spouses contesting against each other, and allegations pouring down like hail from both sides, the fight between the sitting MP Saumitra Khan of the BJP and his ex-wife Sujata Mondal of the Trinamool Congress, is resembling a daytime soap opera rather than a political battle. It may be recalled that in 2019, Sujata was instrumental in Khan winning the seat, as initially, he was not able to campaign in certain parts of Bishnupur due to a restraining order from the court.

Two years later Sujata left the BJP to join Trinamool, prompting Khan to accuse Trinamool of “stealing his wife”. After an acrimonious separation that was played out in front of the media, the two have now locked horns in the political field. While the BJP’s organisation is strong in Bishnupur, Sujata feels that the fact that she is a “local girl”, coupled with Trinamool’s development work, will ensure her win. The outgoing MP Saumitra Khan had first won this seat on a Trinamool ticket in 2014, and then again on a BJP ticket in 2019. “BJP’s politics is about hurting people,” she said.

Sujata Mondal spoke to Frontline about facing her former spouse in Bishnupur, her electoral prospects, the TMC-driven developments in the State, etc. | Video Credit: Interview by Suhrid Sankar Chattopadhyay; camera by Jayanta Shaw; edited by Samson Ronald K.


In the 2019 election, when your former husband Saumitra Khan was not allowed to campaign in a particular part of his constituency because of a court order, you campaigned on his behalf, carrying his picture with you. Five years later you are standing against him with a Trinamool ticket, are you a little uncomfortable with the situation?

Not at all. I am very comfortable with the situation. The reason is because this is a fight on my home soil for the people of my place of birth; and the person who is my opponent is one who has done no work for the constituency in the last 10 years, has brought about no development, has not stood beside the people, has not even bothered to answer the phone calls from his own party men, all he has done is change parties.

I had put my faith in this man, and in 2019, risking my own life, I had gone from door to door campaigning for him, because he was involved in a number of crimes. I had done so, because I believed that this man would work for the development of Bishnupur. But alas! The unspeakable torture he subjected me to—cheating on me with another woman—that is one thing; but who did he really deceive? The innocent people of Bishnupur. He did absolutely nothing for them; he just enjoyed himself shuttling between Delhi and Kolkata.

I believe that my people of Bishnupur—all the people from the 13 blocks that constitute the Bishnupur seat—will place their trust in Sujata, as they have always done, and will vote for Trinamool and ensure my victory with a huge margin.

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The Bishnupur Lok Sabha seat not only came to the BJP, but in the 2021 Assembly election also, when the saffron party suffered reversals in many of the Lok Sabha Assembly segments it had a lead in 2019, it won five of the seven Assembly segments under Bishnupur Lok Sabha. How will you reverse this?

In 2021, there was a cyclonic storm in support of Trinamool. In that situation, the results in Bishnupur were not satisfactory. Only Barjora and Khandaghosh (seats) were face-savers for Trinamool. Though we could not win in Onda, Katulpur, Bishnupur, Indus, and Sonamukhi, it is my firm belief that Mamata di’s development (policy), Abhishek Banerjee’s Naba Jowar (a 50-day outreach programme undertaken by Abhishek in 2023), and my tireless efforts and loyalty, will make the people give this constituency to Trinamool Congress.

For the last 10 years, the people of Bishnupur have received nothing from my opponent and haven’t even seen him for the last five years. All he did was lie and enjoy himself. He is constantly abusing people—sometimes our leader, sometimes Abhishek Banerjee, sometimes me, sometimes my workers. He is constantly using provocative language and issuing threats—attacking my minority leaders, saying they would spread communalism. He is saying that if he wins—Bishnupur Lok Sabha will not be so unfortunate—he will pluck out the eyes of Trinamool workers, and break their limbs. The district president of the BJP is saying that he will make the Trinamool people undergo a “treatment”, and capture all the Panchayats. I am only saying what they are saying.

The most scary thing the BJP is saying is: “You have seen how the BJP threw 26,000 people out of a job (referring to the High Court ruling on the School Service Commission recruitment scam), now vote for us, and we will take away jobs from 59,000 people.” This is the BJP’s nature and taste. They cannot give jobs to people, they cannot ensure them the right to live, but they can take away jobs, and then proudly boast about it. They are saying that when the BJP comes to power it will stop Kanyasree, Rupasree, and Lakshmir Bhandar (the State’s welfare schemes for underprivileged women). BJP’s practice is stopping things—stopping the money for Awas, for 100 days of work. But Mamata Banerjee has started giving them.

BJP’s politics is about hurting people. I will request the people of Bishnupur to please not waste their valuable vote by casting it for any party other than Trinamool. I will request them to cast their vote in favour of their local girl, Sujata, and help her win by a huge margin so that in the days to come, I can go to the Parliament as your local girl and bring back what is due to you. Everybody knows Sujata is a daughter of the soil in Bishnupur, while her opponent is an outsider. He is neither a voter of Bishnupur, nor a resident, nor was he born here, nor did he work here. So, he has no feelings for this place. He just spent the last 10 years fooling people. But this time he will not get another chance.

You are saying that your being a local girl is a big factor in this election. But Saumitra Khan is a two-time MP (2014 on a Trinamool ticket, and 2019 on a BJP ticket), and a well-known name for the last 10 years. You think being a local girl will tip the scales in your favour?

In every family, the daughter is always loved more than the daughter-in-law. Few families view the daughter and the daughter-in-law in the same light. So, I am a daughter of Bishnupur, and he is someone who has come from another land. An outsider can never win against a local girl. I am a daughter of this land. I was born and brought up in Bishnupur, and the people of Bishnupur transformed a simple Sujata into a politician Sujata. I became a candidate from here, because my people wanted it. My people wanted it, that is my leaders Mamata Banerjee and Abhishek Banerjee sent me here with the responsibility of winning the seat.

It is my belief that this fraud; this person who holds aloft the banner of fake Hindutva, this BJP candidate from Bishnupur, who wasted 10 years doing nothing but changing parties, will not win this time. The people of Bishnupur have realized that voting for him is wasting a vote. During the Covid pandemic, the people of Bishnupur did not even see him, let alone have him by their side. He was having fun somewhere else. One BJP Panchayat member from Nihar village had lost his mother, and was repeatedly calling him (Saumitra Khan) for some help from the crematorium, he did not even answer the phone. Do people want such a man as their representative? Never. Bishnupur is a heritage city. A city of culture and learning. People made a mistake on two occasions. This time the people are all set to rectify that mistake. Mamata Banerjee’s development work will win in Bishnupur this time.

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Given your past relationship, is this fight more personal than political?

This was one of my life’s misfortunes. I do not want to even remember it as a past. It is a totally lost chapter (in my life). It was an accident. For me it was not a marriage; it was an accident, a trauma. I don’t want any woman to go through the kind of torture he had inflicted upon me. When the whole country was in lockdown, I had to escape with my life from our house in Delhi at 3:25 am.

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