“You have come to see Didi… How can I ask for the fare? Today is our day,” smiled cab driver Sanjib Mondal, as he dropped this correspondent outside Mamata Banerjee’s residence in south Kolkata.
It was 10 am and word was out that Trinamool was heading for a thumping victory.
Mondal’s ecstasy matched those of hundreds gathered in front of Banerjee’s residence. While the votes were being counted, their slogans pierced the air. ‘Maa Mati Manush, Dhonyobad’ (Mother, earth, man, thank you) followed ‘Stay cool, ballot khullei Trinamool’ (Stay cool, Trinamool will win).
With news of Trinamool's upsurge coming in, bouquets and boxes of sweets kept piling up at Banerjee’s tiny office. News of her boarding the aircraft in Delhi led to another round of thunderous applause.
All hell broke loose when didi arrived home at 1.40 pm. “This is a historic victory. I am indebted to Ma, Mati Manush,” she said before cautioning the near-hysteric crowd. “Don’t take out victory processions blocking roads. Don’t forget we are here to serve the people. Victory should make people calm.”
“She must have meant when we come to power we should not have the audacity to say ora tirish amra dusho poitirish (they are 30, we are 235). This is what happens to people who let power go into their heads,” said Trinamool worker Prasanta Karmakar. (An allusion to West Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharya’s comment during the 2006 Assembly polls.
Cups of tea, bottles of water and packets of green vermilion made the rounds. The three-petal party symbol, embossed on saris, umbrellas, caps, T-shirts, and even bindis, flooded the street outside the house. “I am poor. Didi always helps me out. This sari ( with the party symbol) was a gift from her. I decided to wear it to celebrate this historic moment,” said 56-year-old Shandya Chatterjee.
The crowd swelled as the day progressed. Didi emerged to make another announcement. “We will bring out our victory rally on July 21 and dedicate it to those who laid down their lives for the party,” she said.