Battle for Bengal: Mamata juggernaut rolls out
Mamata Banerjee is drawing people by the thousands as she canvasses for her party candidates in Kolkata.
Kolkata: She waves at the crowds, shakes hands with the people and greets them either with a namaskar or an adab - depending on whether she is traversing a Hindu or a Muslim majority area. Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee is drawing people by the thousands as she canvasses for her party candidates in the city for the April-May assembly polls.
With the restrictions in force on using loudspeakers in view of the ongoing higher secondary examinations, Banerjee has been holding roadshows alongside her party leaders to woo the voters. She seldom speaks and even refuses to give soundbites to the media during the roadshows which continue for several kilometres at a stretch.
Be it Behala in the city's fast developing southern outskirts, or Shyambazar that still oozes old world charm in the north, Banerjee is being virtually mobbed by party supporters and the people everywhere. Carrying party flags and posters and shouting "Maa Mati Manush (a catchy Trinamool slogan coined by Banerjee) Zindabad" and "Mamata Banerjee Zindabad", the workers and commoners are walking miles with the firebrand leader who is being regarded as a strong contender for the chief minister's chair after the polls.
Similar scenes of crowd adulation were seen in the Muslim majority areas when Banerjee led a gargantuan seven-km long procession from Ekbalpore More to Ramnagar. With an eye on the Muslim vote bank, Banerjee along with city Mayor Sovan Chatterjee and other senior party leaders, covered several localities dominated by the minority community that constitutes around 26 percent of the state's electorate.
As Banerjee walked past Mominpore, Garden Reach, Khidderpore and Metiabruz, the crowd swelled. Thousands of people stood on both sides of the roads and waved at Banerjee, who returned the gestures. Groups of youngsters were seen riding motorbikes carrying Trinamool flags, and shouting slogans eulogising Banerjee and cursing the present Left Front government of the state.
Former Congress state executive president Pradip Bhattacharya led a large group of party supporters, who hailed Banerjee. They shouted 'Didi r sathe Congress' (Congress is with Trinamool) and carried life size cutouts of Banerjee. At Ekbalpore, residents of several buildings showered flower petals on the 56-year-old leader, who has established herself as the main alternative to the state's ruling Left Front.
Banerjee almost walked the whole stretch of the road, seemingly enjoying every moment, as her die-hard supporters broke the police cordon and tried to interact with her. Banerjee, not one to miss the opportunity to gel with the people, herself broke the security cordon on several occasions in her attempt to reach out to them.
As the rally reached Khidderpore, the Trinamool leader was cheered by a large number of people standing near the crossing to catch a glimpse of her. Banerjee briskly walked towards them and exchanged pleasantries. Evening had set in and the roadshow was at its finishing point. Banerjee asked her supporters to return home safely and hopped into her car.
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