As Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee gets set for her address on Wednesday on the occasion of TMC’s Martyrs’ Day, political pundits will be keeping a keen eye on her posturing for the 2024 general elections. The thumping majority with which Banerjee defeated the BJP in Bengal has given a shot in the arm to the opposition camp, which will also listen in to what the chief minister has to say.
July 21 is a crucial date for the TMC as it was on this day in 1993 that 13 people were shot by the Bengal Police in Kolkata during a rally by West Bengal Youth Congress under Banerjee while demanding that voters’ ID card be made the sole document for voting. The movement had helped establish a young Banerjee as a leader with no family links in politics but a grassroots-level connect.
In 1998, when Banerjee broke out of the Congress to form the TMC, she continued to mark July 21 every year.
My heartfelt tribute to the 13 innocent lives that were lost on this day in 1993. I urge all my brothers & sisters to join me today at 2PM in a virtual meet to honor the brave souls.Our voices against those committing inhumane atrocities shall keep growing louder.#ShahidDibas
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) July 21, 2021
On this day, TMC workers take their mantra from the supremo which sets their pace for the work ahead. Minister Subrata Mukherje said: “We all wait for July 21. This time the win is for Bengal but Mamata Banerjee, by winning this match, has set the tone for 2024.”
For Banerjee, the date has held a special significance. During the Singur-Nandigram battle, she showed her spirit to fight despite all odds. In 2011, with “Parivarthaner 21”, the chief minister set the agenda for change.
In 2019, when BJP got 18 seats, political pundits were of the opinion that Banerjee’s 2021 battle seemed a lost cause. Even though her workers were apprehensive, Banerjee boosted their morale and they plunged into the war of 2021, registering a deafening victory. Last year, the Covid-19 pandemic forced July 21 anniversary to take a virtual route but it was on this day last year that she started her campaign for the 2021 polls.
July 21 has witnessed 28 years of Mamata Banerjee’s journey and this time, not only the political fraternity of Bengal but the national political circuit too will listen to Didi.