Weaving her magic from Shyambazar to Esplanade on World Women’s Day, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee kicked off her election campaign, coining slogans and walking to the beats of drums and colourful tribal dancers balancing earthen pots on their heads.
The chief minister walked about eight km from Shyambazar to Esplanade leading what appeared to be an extended political tableau more than a traditional political procession. A host of Trinamool candidates and leaders walked alongside her.
“Thanda Matha Cool-Cool, Asche Abar Trinamool (Keep your cool and vote Trinamool back to power),” she said at the end of the padayatra in Esplanade about 90 minutes after she started from Shyambazar five-point crossing on Tuesday afternoon.
The most colourful part of the show was a team of 10 dhakis — all women dressed in white saree with broad red borders —-- who beat tribal drums (dhamsa and madol) throughout the entire stretch.
“We have come from Habra (in North 24-Parganas). Another group of us has gone to Siliguri. We have learnt the drums beats over the past two years and now we have been hired for the procession,” said Samapti Das, one of the many women drummers. Several school and college girls were also seen participating in the procession.
Like a political Pied Piper, the Trinamool chief walked through the streets, with a number of leaders and countless supporters following her.
The day was hot and humid. The chief minister, who can’t but walk briskly, was sweating and was also looking tired. But she kept her spirits up and did not slow down her pace. She was not even seen gulping water, though she stopped at a few spots to greet her supporters. While Mamata completed the entire route on foot some of her comrades were seen on motorcycles.
When the procession reached Esplanade around 3.40 pm, many expected that she would deliver a speech. But she disappointed them and said only a few words besides pouting the “Matha Thanda” slogan. “Haath Haturi Padma, Sobai Miley Korun Jobdo (Unite to defeat CPI-M, Congress and BJP),” was another slogan she raised.
Among the candidates who walked with their leader were Chandrima Bhattacharya, Arup Biswas, Sashi Panja, Vaishali Dalmiya, Naina Bandyopadhyay and Swarnakamal Saha. Many of the participants carried placards proclaiming success of projects like Kanyashree. “Didi has done a lot for us. We were given bicycles, the roads in our locality were also built. In her support we have come to Kolkata from Birbhum,” said Anita Bauri, who came from Birbhum with others to participate in the rally.
Along the way Mamata paid homage to Swami Vivekananda’s idol at Shimla Street. The residents on the both sides of the road were seen crowding the rooftops to watch her pass.