“I wouldn’t mind falling into a drain 10 times if Didi becomes the chief minister!” So shouted a man in his mid-thirties, with a mud-smeared face and a ‘vote for Trinamool’ cap as he scampered out of the drain he had fallen into while trying to follow Mamata Banerjee on her rally from Shibpur to Salkia in Howrah.
Everyone gathered around him, but he could attract attention only for a few seconds. There was more adventure and thrill awaiting everyone on GT road on Sunday.
As always, Banerjee arrived like a hurricane! But the madness that surrounded her was more overwhelming. From loyal supporters to the common man, everyone watched the scene with gaping mouths.
It didn’t look like a mere campaign rally held about a month before the district goes for polls on May 3. The atmosphere was electric and it looked like Banerjee had already laid claim to the Writers’ Buildings!
Besides flooding GT Road, people found seats on any place available — rooftops, balconies and windows of the high rises, boundary walls of parks, schools, colleges and factories, rickshaws or whatever vehicle people found parked by the side of the road.
As soon as Banerjee’s black Santro stopped near Shalimar station in Shibpur, a few hundred metres ahead of the rally spot, the crowd went hysterical. The frenzied supporters jumped on the car from all sides, competing with each other as to who could reach the closest to their beloved Didi, creating a stampede-like situation.
After around 10 minutes when she started for the road show, at 5pm on Saturday, many enthusiasts had their spectacles broken, shirts or kurtas torn and slippers lost. So what? If their Didi could ride such a tide, how can they miss it?
So, the celebration continued unabated as the crowd followed Banerjee, the stormy walker, all through her walk of two-and-half hours, covering a distance of more than six kilometres through three assembly constituencies — Howrah north, Howrah south and Howrah central. They sang, danced and beat drums to the rhythm of anti CPI(M) slogans. People on balconies and buildings showered flowers on her, while the rest clicked her photos on cameras and mobile phones, some threw garlands at her, and everyone shouted slogans.
“I’ve never seen such madness at a campaign rally,” said Sk Mustaque Jabbar, a resident of Foreshore Road in Howrah. Clad in a spotless white kurta-pyajama, he walked barefoot after losing one of his slippers.
Right in front of the office of the district superintendent of police, some supporters had strewn petals on the road, to welcome their Didi and probably to remind the police administration of the changing times in Bengal politics.