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Walk the talk

Mamata Banerjee has resurrected the padyatra. Something very interesting may be afoot.

india Updated: Mar 31, 2011 23:12 IST

It’s a do or wait-for-another-five-years battle for Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and she’s not leaving anything to chance. In fact, she has hit the ground running with fresh ideas about how to connect with the voters better.

Not satisfied with only public rallies, Ms Banerjee is conducting padyatras, the political walkathon, a time-tested method most politicians seem to have forgotten. So instead of a convoy of SUVs moving from one constituency to another, it is Didi in her joggers (unless she sticks to her chappals) and her retinue of faithful snaking through the lanes of Kolkata.

In a day, reports say, she is doing about 6-10 km. In the muggy Kolkata heat, that’s no mean feat for a non-Ethiopian non-athlete. In contrast, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has confined himself to his own constituency and rallies. Slacker!

A little birdie also tells us that the source of energy for these daily marathons is a treadmill that has now found the pride of place in the Banerjee household, a lesson for all those lazybones among us. Ms Banerjee’s sure is thinking on her feet, a great thing for a political party that’s tipped to win the crucial assembly election.

And being nimble-footed always helps in politics, especially when you need to handle many ‘peepol’s issues’.

The peepol — sorry people — of Kolkata, unused to such mass contact programmes except in bus rides, have taken to Didi’s latest way with enthusiasm.

So the news is, after a lunch of fish and rice, there is, alas, no siesta anymore. When Didi is around, everyone wants to be there for a dekko. Our guess is that Ms Banerjee, in her latest sporty incarnation, wouldn’t mind the attention at all.