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Mamata Banerjee’s all-nighter: Phone calls, sips of water and a 3-hour break

Sometime between 4 and 5 am on Monday morning, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee stepped off the stage and left Esplanade Court, where she’s holding a protest against the CBI, to freshen up.

india Updated: Feb 04, 2019 18:11 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Mamata Banerjee,CBI Mamata Banerjee,CBI chief Kolkata
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee began a sit-in dharna in front of Metro station at Esplanade to protest the CBI’s move to question Kolkata Police commissioner Rajeev Kumar .(Photo: Samir Jana/Hindustan Times)

Sometime between 4 and 5 am on Monday morning, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee stepped off the stage and left Esplanade, where she’s holding a protest against the CBI, to freshen up. About three hours later, she was back to resume her protest which began around 8.30pm on Sunday evening.

The firebrand leader, who turned 64 on January 5 this year, clad in a thin elaborately embroidered kantha shawl to protect herself from the winter chill, kept herself busy through the night holding telephonic conversations with various political leaders who kept calling her to extend their support to her, and checking her messages and news sites, all the while intermittently interacting with Firhad Hakim, the Kolkata Mayor and the state’s urban development minister and Arup Biswas, minister for north Bengal affairs.

Sipping water off and on, and brimming with energy, the Trinamool Congress chief stayed up as she pulled an all nighter, after asking her supporters gathered at Esplanade to go home with the assurance that she would hold fort herself and that they would find her there in the morning when they returned. A few dozen policemen stayed by her side to ensure her security through the night.

Watch: Mamata Banerjee’s dharna continues, Opposition signs memorandum to give to EC

Early in the morning, instead of heading to her home about 3 kilometres away, Mamata left the stage and headed to a traffic police outpost to freshen up and presumably to have a cup of tea and a bite to eat.

Click here for live updates on Mamata Banerjee’s protest

She returned to the protest venue around 7 am, even as Esplanade, in the heart of Kolkata, began filling up with her supporters from all over the city as well as nearby towns. Back at the protest site and still brimming with energy, Mamata paced the stage restlessly, all the while keeping an eye on her supporters as well as interacting with the mediapersons gathered there.

Mamata was scheduled to address a gathering at a stadium close to Esplanade where she’s holding her protest. With her protest continuing, arrangements are being made for her to address the farmers’ gathering via video conferencing.

Some political leaders who attended her United India rally are also expected to arrive at the protest venue, or send emissaries, to personally express their support to Mamata’s protest.

The West Bengal chief minister began her protest against the CBI action in Kolkata around 8:45 pm on Sunday night. She was protesting the CBI’s attempt to question Kolkata police chief Rajeev Kumar in connection with the chit fund scams. Beginning her protest, she said she would continue her ‘Satyagraha’ till the country and its Constitution are saved.

“This is a Satyagraha and I will continue till the country is saved,” Banerjee told reporters who had accompanied on Sunday evening.

During the course of her protest, she received calls from politicians including former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamalnath, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Gujarat MLA and Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani.

Late on Sunday evening, a CBI team which had arrived at Kumar’s residence in Kolkata’s Loudon Street area was denied permission and bundled into jeeps and taken to a police station from where they were released later.

The CBI wants to quiz Kumar, who led a Special Investigation Team of West Bengal police probing the scams, regarding missing documents and files.

Also read | ‘Will continue Satyagraha till country is saved’, says Mamata Banerjee as dharna enters day 2

First Published: Feb 04, 2019 10:23 IST