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Monday, Sep 16, 2019

With overnight protest, Mamata Banerjee joins list of CMs who stood against Centre

The overnight protest by the firebrand 64-year-old Trinamool Congress chief brought back memories of a protest by Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal in January 2014.

india Updated: Feb 04, 2019 19:05 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee during a sit-in over the CBI's attempt to question the Kolkata Police commissioner in connection with chit fund scams, in Kolkata on February 4.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee during a sit-in over the CBI's attempt to question the Kolkata Police commissioner in connection with chit fund scams, in Kolkata on February 4.(PTI Photo)
         

On Sunday, when West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee sat down on a chair at Esplanade in the heart of Kolkata, she joined a short list of chief ministers who have protested against the Central government in recent years.

Sitting there in a thin, elaborately embroidered kantha shawl which she later swapped for a plain one, the firebrand 64-year-old Trinamool Congress chief brought back memories of a protest by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in January 2014.

On Sunday, the Aam Aadmi Party chief was among the first to express his solidarity with Mamata Banerjee.

Both Mamata and Kejriwal’s protests had three things in common.

Read more| Rajeev Kumar: The Kolkata police commissioner at the centre of Mamata Banerjee, Centre tussle

The first is the winter season. While Kejriwal’s protest took place in New Delhi in the bone chilling temperatures of the 2014 January, Mamata spent a chilly night at Esplanade in Kolkata.

The second was the all-nighter that both chief ministers pulled. While Kejriwal wrapped himself up in bundles of sweaters and several blankets and a muffler to ward off the biting January cold, and slept on the road — a first for any sitting Delhi chief minister — Mamata, clad in a thin shawl, spent a busy sleepless night holding telephonic conversations with various political leaders and keeping herself hydrated with brief sips of water.

The third factor that is common between the two protests is the police, but for different reasons. While Mamata’s protest is to prevent the CBI from questioning police commissioner Rajeev Kumar in the Saradha chit fund case and against, in her own words “the atrocities of the Modi government”, Kejriwal was demanding that the Delhi Police be brought under the control of the Delhi government. Currently the Centre controls the Delhi Police.

Immediately after Mamata began her protest, the AAP convenor and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had called up Mamata and extended his support to her protest.

Read more| Protest against CBI ‘non-political’, but political support welcome: Mamata Banerjee

Esplanade is not new to Mamata Banerjee’s protests. In 2006, a time when she was not the chief minister and sat in the Opposition in the state assembly, she had undertaken a 25-day-long hunger strike against location of a Tata car project at Singur. The 2006 protest had helped her break the Left rule in the state and at the same time had earned her the sobriquet of “Dharna Didi”.

The other chief ministers who have protested against the Centre include Kerala’s Pinarayi Vijayan, Andhra Pradesh’s Chandrababu Naidu and Tamil Nadu’s E Palaniswami.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s protest was held in June last year against the Centre who he accused of backtracking from a project to set up a railway coach factory in Pakakkad. The protest was held in the national capital outside the Rail Bhavan.

Tamil Nadu chief minister E Palaniswami’s protest was held in April to demand the constitution of the Cauvery Management Board and Cauvery Water Regulation Commmittee. Palaniswami was joined by his deputy chief minister O Pannerselvam in the day-long fast.

The most recent protest was by Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu, who wore a black shirt on the first day of the Budget session this year in a symbolic protest against what he called was the Centre’s “step motherly treatment” towards his state and for not fulfiling its promises to grant the state special category status. Naidu - who is usually seen in a white, cream or yellow coloured shirt - is said to have worn a black shirt for the first time. Earlier, as a mark of protest he has limited himself to wearing a black arm band or a black badge.

First Published: Feb 04, 2019 17:54 IST