After making history, Mamata Banerjee was a picture of calm, in sharp contrast to the frenzied mass outside her modest house in the city’s Kalighat neighbourhood.
The scent of victory was in the air early on Friday as hundreds of Trinamool workers huddled in front of TV sets, and mediapersons got ready to capture history in the making.
People started gathering around a large screen that flashed TV election reports.
By 9.30 am, as the poll trends left little doubt that Left’s 34-year rule was ending, party faithfuls, select Trinamool leaders and the neighbourhood, started filling the lanes outside the house of their leader Soon, the green flags and gulal came out as shouts of “Trinamool Trinamool” reverberated on 30-B Harish Chatterjee Street. Within an hour, the crowd swelled to thousands.
Trinamool leader Derek O’Brien could not stop smiling. “I’m speechless,” he said. “The one traffic light in the world that was red for 34 years, just turned green,” O’Brien posted on micro-blogging site Twitter. Mamata’s brother Subrata Banerjee led the celebrations.
“My mother who is ill was among the first to congratulate Mamata. We are very proud of her,” he said. “My sister had to struggle for years to reach here where she has. Everyone is in a festive mood here.” A little after before noon, Mamata emerged from her house, flashing a victory sign. The crowd roared.
“This is a new Bengal born,” said party supporter Naresh Jana, as sweets were distributed and a green Holi of sorts played on the streets.
Anuradha Dhar, a youngster from Jadavpur, who has been working in Mamata’s office voluntarily for the past four years, said this was the “happiest moment” of her life.
“Now our leader will show what development really is,” Dhar said. Praful Das, who has been working in a shop owned by Mamata’s brother for 20 years, said it was the end of “such a long struggle” for the Trinamool chief – now set to be the chief minister of West Bengal.
By evening, some of the victorious TMC MLAs started trickling in to Mamata’s house.
“Now, we will have to work for the people. Didi has given us clear instructions,” said Bobby Hakim, the winning Trinamool candidate from Kolkata Port, covered in green colour. The revelry continued till late night.
The celebration of democracy caught the attention of foreign media as well. “This is very interesting. This is so vibrant,” said Imran Brada, a South African national shooting a documentary on Indian democracy. “This is my first shoot in Bengal.” And Partha Rehman, a journalist from Bangladesh, had this piece of advice for the losing side: “The Left front should learn from its mistakes.”