Women dwellers of the dingy slum at Chetla Lockgate area in chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s constituency Bhawanipur, gave BJP president Amit Shah a warm reception on Wednesday, blowing conch cells and showering flowers on him, but were left upset as none of them could tell the BJP helmsman anything about their woes.
“We were all expecting him to listen to our problems. But as his security guards, the media persons and crowd of BJP leaders jostled for place in this narrow lane, we got no chance at all to say tell him what we all wanted to,” said Krishna Jana, a middle-aged woman minutes after the BJP president left the spot on Wednesday afternoon. Jana, like some other women of the area, was clad in a white saree with red borders usually worn on auspicious occasions.
Shah entered the house of five of her neighbours - Kalpana Mondal, Sandhya Baidya, Arati Jana, Tulu Mondal and Mamoni Mondal. But none of them managed to tell him what they wanted to.
These ground level BJP workers were visibly happy that Shah and other senior leaders entered their home and saw the conditions in which they live, but in the end were left peeved at the situation.
“We are happy that at least some top politician came to see our living conditions. He said us hello and asked how we were doing. I offered him some fruits which he ate. We wanted to tell him about the poor drainage facilities in our slum and lack of toilets. But we got no time for that because of his tight schedule and the crowd that always surrounded him,” said Baidya, who works as a domestic help. She started supporting BJP three years ago.
On Tuesday, the BJP present went to the house of a scheduled tribe family, had lunch there and spoke to Gita Kahali, the wife of a labourer. The widely televised event raised the expectations of the residents of the slum in Chetla too.
“We were told he is coming to listen to us. How is it possible for him to listen to us if he is accompanied by a crowd of BJP leaders, security persons and media people?” Anita Mondal asked.
Shah was accompanied by general secretary Kailash Vijayavargiya, state president Dilip Ghosh, national secretary Rahul Sinha, joint secretary Shivprakash and prominent state leaders Rupa Ganguly, Locket Chatterjee and Chandra Kumar Bose, among others.
There was an air of expectation among the dwellers of the slum for the past fww days since it was announ ed that the BJP boss would visit the area considered as underbelly of the entire constituency.
On Wednesday more than 200 people from the slum gathered to listen to Shah and get a glimpse of him. All of them were not BJP supporters but they converged on the spot with the hope of drawing attention of the authorities over the issues that concern them in their daily lives.
“I witnessed hell today. How pathetic is their living conditions!” Vijayvargiya exclaimed, adding, “We have to find out where are the money allotted for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan going to.”
The local Trinamool Congress councillor, Pranab Biswas, however, could not promise a permanent solution to the drainage problem overnight.
“We are sending our teams for the cleaning needs every day. But a permanent solution would take time, as the drainage is linked the Adiganga canal, which is not in a good condition. We’ll, however, try to solve the problem with toilets,” Biswas told HT.