Metro Railway added just 6 km to its existing 16.5 km network in Kolkata on Saturday, but Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee traversed hundreds of political miles in her journey towards Writers’ Buildings.
The event had all the trappings of a Tollywood mega show, pandered to Bengali sentiments that left the ruling Left Front gasping for political breadth.
Mamata has always been known as a crowd-puller, but the galaxy of silver screen and political stars that she assembled on the stage at Tollygunge Metro Rail station left her adversaries awe-struck.
Gimmicks and a break from protocol has been the hallmark of Mamata shows these days. Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi dumped his motorcade and security at the Esplanade Metro station, boarded a train and landed right in the thick of action at Tollygunge. Protest singers Nachiketa and Kabir Suman (now a Trinamool MP) set the tone for the function, where film stars from the past to present were in attendance.
Bengal and Bengali pride was the theme, evident in the names of the new stations — Uttam Kumar, Kabi Nazrul, Geetanjali, Surya Sen and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
New projects were announced and all of them will have the stamp of Bengal’s greats. A sports stadium named after Satyajit Ray, a hospital on railway land will recall the achievements of the late film director Tapan Sinha and the Maidan Metro halt will be re-christened Goshto Pal, the football legend.
Mamata herself was shining bright, pacing up and down the podium. “I am happy to have kept my promise to the people of this city,” she said, adding, “The railways will now unite Kolkata and its fringe areas.”
Indicating perhaps the state’s deep political divide, no one from the government attended the function, though the Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee regime is a major stakeholder in the project. The CM was not invited and transport minister Ranjit Kundu, who got an invitation card, did not turn up.