As news of Mamata Banerjee’s victory spread, the residents of Kolkata poured onto the streets in several pockets on Friday and celebrated the moment with a rare spontaneity.
The scent of victory was in the air early around Banerjee’s modest home in Kalighat. By 9.30am, as the trends left little doubt that the Left’s 34-year rule was ending, party faithfuls, select Trinamool leaders and the entire neighbourhood started filling the lanes.
The green flags and gulal (colours) came out as shouts of “Trinamool Trinamool” reverberated in front of the 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 Twitter.
Across the city, groups of people walked with their faces painted in the green of Trinamool Congress.
Given reports about concerns of clashes breaking out between Trinamool and CPM supporters, Banerjee’s appeal to maintain calm to her supporters helped soothe tempers. “We will definitely celebrate it, but the celebration should be peaceful.”
Early in the morning, supporters huddled in tiny pandals that the Trinamool built overnight in the Hazra area, and watched the action unfold on TV.
In Beliaghata, supporters chanted “dhanyabad, dhanyabad” once the verdict became clear.
In Kasba, happy faces filled the streets, putting gulal on people — but with permission. “Now, if there is trouble, the CPM will blame us,” said Trinamool supporter Tuhin Gupta.
The traffic was, however, thinner on Friday. Public transport was limited and many preferred to remain indoors. The Metro, too, remained relatively empty.
In Burrabazar, shopkeepers stayed close to their TV sets.
The mood was upbeat in Singur, where Banerjee’s agitation forced the Left government to shift the Tata Nano plant, marking a turning point for the CPM’s fortunes in West Bengal.
Singur resident Gangarani Bag owned three bighas of land. “My family was subjected to extreme torture during the land acquisition and we lost all of it,” she said. In 2007, her husband ended his life “out of grief”.
“When I heard Friday’s results, I couldn’t help but cry tears of happiness,” she said.