Besides being the Chief Minister of West Bengal, she would also like to be known as an author, a painter and a musician. And also someone who walks a lot! As the 2019 Lok Sabha election unfolds in rounds, Mamata Banerjee sat for an extensive and exclusive conversation with News18. When quizzed by Network18 Editor-In-Chief Rahul Joshi, Banerjee revealed she was fond of walking and would walk 20 km every day! "It depends on time. I am not getting much time due to the elections right now. But I walk 20 kilometers every day, on an average. I love walking," she said.
When Rahul Joshi likened it to being like a half marathon, Mamata followed it up by giving us a quick background of what led her to walk every day. "I began in 2006. I was on a hunger strike for the farmers. I starved for 26 days, I did not even drink water. I fell very sick. All of my liver, kidney, and gallbladder. I drank only water for three months. After that, my doctor advised me to walk regularly. From then on, I walk on the treadmill. I walk 10 km on the treadmill and 10 km otherwise," she answered.
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The Trinamool Congress supremo also revealed she was very fond of cooking and called it an 'art'. "I love cooking. Women in my family cook great food. How would the food taste if someone puts too much salt or too much sugar? Even men cook good food if you look at Odisha and all. Cooking is also an art. I love it.”
“In the last eight years, I have been receiving a pension of Rs 75,000. I have not withdrawn even a single penny. My whole life, I have travelled in the economy class. I have saved a lot of money of the Government. I have not taken salary as the chief minister. I didn't even buy a new car. I spend my own money whenever I have to stay in a guest house. I earn Rs 1 lakh as CM, my pension is now about Rs 1 lakh, so I get Rs 2 lakh a month. I drink tea with my own money," she was heard saying.
You might have come across numerous pieces written by her on social media. Banerjee's paintings have been bought by a number of prominent industrialists in the past. The last edition Kolkata Book Fair, held in January this year, witnessed her books selling out like hotcakes. Bipanna Bharat, Ami, Shishudola' and Namanjali Samagra being some of the bestsellers.
"I have published 86 books. Most of my books are bestsellers. I donate the money that I receive through my paintings. I don't have a single rupee in my account. But the music that I compose, I earn through that. I am also able to sustain myself with the money that I receive after selling my books. It's not a lot of money though. Indranil Sen, who is the number one singer in Bengal, gave me a royalty of Rs 3 lakh. I earned Rs 11 lakh after some of my books became bestsellers," the politician said.
That's quite a lot of multi-tasking!