On International Women's Day, Mamata Banerjee holds foot march in Kolkata. It's a retort to PM Modi
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday held a foot march (padayatra) in Kolkata on the occasion of International Women's Day. What makes the event more relevant in the poll-bound state is the fact that it was held a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacked the Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government on women's safety.
The roadshow was primarily led by women party workers, with many of the prominent faces being Saayoni Ghosh, Kaushani Mukherjee, and a slew of celebrities who recently joined Trinamool. The march proceeded from College Street to the Dorina Crossing area in the city, with Mamata Banerjee herself in the forefront.
Notably, addressing a rally at Kolkata's historic Brigade Ground, PM Modi had on Sunday attacked Banerjee, accusing her of "betraying and insulting" the people of the state who trusted she will bring about a positive change after the Left rule.
He had also accused Banerjee of nepotism by choosing to play the insular role of "bua" (aunt) to her "bhatija" (nephew) instead of becoming "Didi" (elder sister) to the people.
"I ask everyone present here - is not the TMC government at fault over the conditions of the poor, the women, and the children in this state? Should Mamata Banerjee not be punished in the upcoming polls?" the Prime Minister proclaimed to a roaring crowd.
He also tried to take the wind out of the sails of the TMC over its "outsider" rhetoric against the BJP.
"If parties preaching Marx and Lenin, and the TMC - an offshoot of the Congress party - can be 'insiders', then why should the BJP, inspired by Syama Prasad Mookerjee's foundational ideologies, be treated as an outsider?" the Prime Minister remarked.
PM Modi's rally set the tone for the BJP's campaign in Bengal where it is trying to oust the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government from power. Banerjee, the chief of the TMC, held a padayatra in North Bengal's Siliguri on Sunday, where she addressed a rally alleging that the Prime Minister was "peddling lies to mislead voters" in her state.
"By hiking prices for cooking gas, the central government is actually insulting women. Women in my state have the freedom to roam the streets freely even at midnight. In the BJP-ruled state of Uttar Pradesh, women can't even go out of their homes at 3 in the afternoon. The situation is the same in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Bihar," Banerjee said in Siliguri.
Amid such skirmishes, political commentators expect that Banerjee's roadshow in the city today may assume special significance ahead of the polls. The eight-phase polling is slated to take place between March 27 and April 29 in West Bengal.