As chaos reigned in the central part of the city with at least seven lakh people converging at Esplanade for Mamata Banerjee’s victory rally on Tuesday, the leader and her supporters put up a grand spectacle for their audience.
The rally had the feel of a concert rather than a political rally. And her orchestra included some of the best-known names in art, literature, theatre and cinema, along with the usual bunch of political associates.
Mamata went beyond her usual political rhetoric and presented Kolkata with an extravaganza. It was supposed to be a day to remember young party supporters who had fallen to police bullets on this day in 1993. But it turned out to be a celebration of her series of political and electoral victories over the past two years.
Soon, the rally turned into a music concert with two of Bengal’s most popular singers, Nachiketa and Kabir Suman — he was recently elected to Parliament from Jadavpur constituency on a Trinamool Congress ticket — taking the stage. Suman strummed his guitar as his growl juxtaposed the mellifluous voice of Nachiketa. And as their music flowed through the unending mass of heads, thousands lent their voice to the chorus.
With every note of the guitar, barely audible over the crowd and the loudspeakers, Mamata — or Didi as she is known among supporters — managed to bring together on the same platform some of Bengal’s best-known artists, painters, theatre personalities and academics.
She, however, made it clear it was writer-activist and Magsaysay Award winner Mahasweta Devi to whom she dedicated the rally and the Trinamool’s recent victories.
“We want Mamata as CM, so all of you must vote for her in the 2011 assembly polls,” declared Mahasweta Devi, who has often added her anti-Left passion to Mamata’s campaigns in the past three years.
While Suman and Nachiketa returned to sing the latter’s popular number Antabiheen path cholai jibon (life is about walking an endless road), with the multitudes again lending their voice, it was clear Mamata had planned every note in advance. The July 21 event was actually her victory rally, which she had postponed in a show of restraint after her thumping victory in the Lok Sabha polls.
(Inputs from Arindam Sarkar)