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.
Early in the morning, Trinamool supporters huddled in tiny pandals that Trinamool built overnight at Hazra and watched the action unfold on TV. In Beliaghata, several dozen supporters chanted dhanyabad, dhanyabad once the verdict became clear. Some policemen openly supported the change, joining in the celebrations.
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.
The traffic on the 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, 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 Trinamool had set up pandals outside the Kendriya Vidyalaya in Salt Lake. In Alipore, Trinamool 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.