At Trinamool’s Mega Rally, Mamata Banerjee Sets Her Sights On Delhi Once Again But Lacks Her Usual Fiery Self

by Jaideep Mazumdar - Jul 21, 2022 04:42 PM +05:30 IST
At Trinamool’s Mega Rally, Mamata Banerjee Sets Her Sights On Delhi Once Again But Lacks Her Usual Fiery SelfTrinamool supporters near the venue of the rally
  • “I am sure the BJP will not form the next government in Delhi. We will form the government there. The 2024 (Lok Sabha) polls will see the end of the BJP,” said Banerjee at the rally.

Trinamool chairperson Mamata Banerjee repeated her improbable hope of ‘capturing’ power in Delhi in 2024 during an hour-long speech at her party’s signature event in Kolkata Thursday afternoon.

In her address to lakhs of Trinamool workers and supporters who had been brought in by the party from all over the state, Banerjee kept alive her elusive dream of sitting on the Prime Minister’s chair.

“I am sure and can say it with challenge (sic) that the BJP will not be able to get a single largest majority (in the Lok Sabha) in 2024. And then the other parties will come together and form the next government,” she told her fawning supporters and followers.

A hung Parliament with neither the NDA nor the UPA getting a majority of Lok Sabha seats has been a long-cherished dream of Mamata Banerjee. She reckons that in such a scenario, other Opposition parties--the illusory ‘Third Front’--will form the government with outside support from the Congress which will be keen on keeping the BJP out of power.

“I am sure the BJP will not form the next government in Delhi. We will form the government there. The 2024 (Lok Sabha) polls will see the end of the BJP,” she predicted.

For that to happen, she said, the Trinamool will have to win all Lok Sabha seats in Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Goa. This despite the fact that her party has a negligible presence outside Bengal and the Trinamool’s attempts to gain a toehold in other states has met with electoral rebuffs.

But the Trinamool chief also gave calls which will not go down well with other Opposition parties. She said she envisions a future where the Trinamool is the only principled and secular party in the country.

She listed the doles and sops that she has instituted for women, widows, elderly, farmers and others and said that those would continue only if the Trinamool remains in power. She also made the usual claims: that the earnings of farmers in Bengal was the highest in the country, that Bengal has seen the highest fall in unemployment and poverty and that industrialists were making a beeline to set up units in her state.

A major part of her speech, unsurprisingly, was reserved for the BJP. She accused the BJP of privatising PSUs, snatching away jobs, and rewriting history. She also blamed the BJP for “rising unemployment in the country, rising fuel prices and growing poverty”.

Banerjee, playing to the gallery, accused the Union Government of denying Bengal its dues. “Why the economic blockade of Bengal?” she asked, and warned that if this “denial” continues, she would take thousands of people in buses, trucks and trains to Delhi and ‘gherao’ the national capital.

She also declared that she will not bend and will not be scared of central probe agencies like the ED and CBI.

But significantly, Banerjee wasn’t her usual ‘fire and brimstone’ self; the shrill and angry rhetoric, wild gesticulations and display of outrage that marks her public speeches was largely absent.

Also, she largely desisted from her usual theatrics. The twin exceptions being when she got a tray-full of muri (puffed rice) on the stage and displayed it while asking why GST had been imposed on this ‘poor man’s snack’. Noticing a man moving around with the replica of an LPG cylinder, she brought it up on the dais and asked why the price of LPG had risen so exponentially.

She also, expectedly, played on Bengali sub-nationalism and invoked the names of Bengali cultural and religious icons. But that, too, seemed quite half-hearted and lacking the earlier zest. Banerjee, as is her wont, recited some famous Bengali poems, but in a rather desultory manner.

And even her slogans, which used to enthuse her party workers in the past, were tired and lacked their earlier verve and intensity. They seemed repetitious, and some of the slogans came across as meaningless. To cite an example: Joy Bangla dichche dak, joy Bharat beche thak--a slogan that defies any credible translation.

What was also noteworthy was that a major highlight of the Martyrs’ Day rallies (on July 21) of the past--introducing senior leaders of the party, especially those who have joined the Trinamool recently and those from other states--was given the miss this time.

Former Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma (who joined the Trinamool along with a few other Congress MLAs earlier this year), and Trinamool leaders from Goa, Assam and Tripura were on the stage. But the Trinamool chief did not invite them to her special dais and introduce them to her workers and supporters.

Overall, the Trinamool chief came across as a somewhat faded shadow of her usual feisty self. She was not half as combative as she has usually been, and her speech today lacked the vigour and spark that marked her earlier Martyrs’ Day addresses.

It seemed that the shadow of the defeat of Trinamool’s former national vice president--Yashwant Sinha--in the Presidential polls hung heavy over Thursday’s rally. As did the party’s failures to make respectable political debuts in Goa and Tripura in recent months.

Or was it the ‘understanding’ (read this) she is rumoured to have reached with the BJP that held her back from going all out against the saffron party?

Whatever be the case, the lakhs of Trinamool workers and supporters who were brought in by the party’s managers from all over the state for Thursday’s mega rally in Kolkata would have been sorely disappointed at not hearing the usual rhetoric from their fiery Didi.

Also read: Trinamool’s signature event in Kolkata tomorrow won’t mask another setback to Mamata Banerjee’s ‘national’ ambitions

Jaideep Mazumdar is an associate editor at Swarajya.

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