ByÂ Sreyoshi Dey:
I have never been much of a political-minded person but the excitement surrounding the upcoming state elections in West Bengal has been a tense moment for almost every Bengali citizen. It has also made a marked impact on the national level political scenario, as is well-known by now. Everyone is looking forward to the 13th of May, when the results will be declared and finally the truth will be unveiled as to whether the Red Citadel has actually crumbled, whether the 30 years of Communist Rule on Bengal has finally come to an end. The battle between CPI(M) and AITC is a raging war at present.
On the 3rd of April, a lazy Sunday for most of us, I came out with a friend onto the street with the hope of going window shopping. But once on the road, what greeted me was the familiar flag of the Trinamool Congress and a huge group of people huddled together. The road was being strictly monitored by the Police in White and for the first time maybe I saw the busy area of Jadavpur so organised. Being Sunday, it was natural to be surprised at this situation, but at the same time given the coming elections also sparked a sense of fear in us.
We decided to board a bus and go a bit further down the road to figure out actually what was happening. On the bus, a man informed us curious girls that Mamata Bannerjee was coming, she was going to walk down the streets right from Gariahat to Garia, approximately some 8kms. I had read and seen about her marches, which were a part of her election campaign. Apparently, using mikes for campaigning has been prohibited for the sake of Board examinees and so she had stuck to that rule. But Mamata Bannerjee had taken a step further and outdid all political campaigns by far, and made sure that her marches take place during the evenings, from 5 pm, so that it causes no inconvenience for people rushing for work in the morning and afternoon. But somehow, I didn’t believe that even then the marches were totally peaceful.
Curiosity and also the wish to see the lady got better of me and we got down from the bus in the middle of the road. I could see a huge crowd coming, a huge mass of people with flags, posters, shouting out slogans, singing, marching up the road without much trouble. Then in the midst of all of it, I heard the slow murmur, which slowly turned into a chant as the marching people kept passing by — “ MAMATA ASCHE (Mamata is coming), MAMATA ASCHE!”– The chant kept getting stronger, till suddenly in the middle of the people I saw this circular invisible perimeter and there at the center was the lady. It was almost a blink-and-you-miss moment. Too many people- normal people, people who were mere voters- wanted to touch her, hold her, and talk to her; many were busy clicking away her pictures on their camera phones. She smiled at all, shook hands with a few, talked with some, waited for her fellow party workers to catch their breath, but didn’t seem to tire out at all. She made sure that the March was peaceful.
I stood there a bit amazed at the charisma that she possessed that so many people had come out to just meet her. So many people had come out to just march with her. No one seemed to complain about the inconvenience being caused by the huge mass of people marching down the streets, no one seemed to complain about the traffic having come to a standstill. An old man screamed, “Didi ebar dekhabe moja”, and I was left staring awestruck.
So was it true that this “one woman” was the threat for the “30 years in power” state government? The question started to poke me, and still is poking me.
The writer is a student of MA in Sociology and blogs atÂ Tequila Thoughts.