As news of Mamata Banerjee’s victory spread, Kolkata residents poured onto the streets in several pockets on Friday and celebrated the moment with a rare spontaneity.
Many others, however, watched history being made on their television sets. Outside Mamata’s house in Kalighat, the crowds cheered, sprinkling green abeer in the air and doing a jig to mark the TMC’s toppling of the Left. There and elsewhere, groups of people walked with their faces painted in green, the green of Trinamool. Given reports about concerns of clashes breaking out between Trinamool and CPM workers, Mamata’s appeal for calm to her supporters helped soothe tempers.
Early in the morning, Trinamool supporters huddled in tiny pandals that the TMC built overnight in the Hazra area, and watched the action unfold on TV. In Beliaghata, several dozen TMC supporters chanted “dhanyabad, dhanyabad” once the verdict became clear.
In Kasba, happy faces filled the streets, putting the symbolic abeer on people ­­ but only after taking their permission. “Now, if there is trouble, the CPI-M will blame us,” said Trinamool supporter Tuhin Gupta, celebrating the victory with his friends.
The traffic on the city’s streets was, however, thinner on Friday. Public transport was limited and many people preferred to remain indoors. The Metro, too, remained relatively empty.
In Burrabazar, shopkeepers stayed close to their television sets. “We are seeing the change in the government together,” said Binod Kumar Tandon, a shop owner. “There are hardly any customers today.”
Piyush Todi, a resident of Salt Lake who had to appear for his CA examination, had trouble commuting. “There is hardly any transport,” he said. “I fear I’ll get late for my exam.”
Both the Left Front and the TMC had set up pandals outside the Kendriya Vidyalaya in Salt Lake.
In Alipore, hundreds of TMC supporters including women shouted slogans like “paribartan in Jadavpur, paribartan in Bengal”, and blew conch shells. At Alipore Hastings, where the counting was taking place for five prime seats (Jadavpur, Kasba, Behala East and west and Metiaburuz), candidates Manish Gupta and Bikash Bhattacharjee, the chief minister’s polling agent, watched the dramatic proceedings.
Overjoyed Trinamool supporters, their faces covered in green, rode in groups in several parts of the city. Some policemen openly supported the change in guard, joining in the celebrations.
Outside the Panihati counting station, a hawker earned handsome profits by selling bread and tea to scores of partymen celebrating the TMC victory.