Mamata uses rhetoric, hyperbole to underscore Opposition unity, attack Modi regime
Basking in the congratulations participants heaped on her at the mega opposition rally on Saturday, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee was at her best as she energetically conducted the proceedings and used rhetoric and hyperbole to attack the Narendra Modi government.
“The government is past its expiry date. We will again meet at these grounds after the formation of a new government. And I invite all the leaders in advance,” said the 63-year-old leader who paced up and down the huge dais for more than four hours without seeming to lose her energy.
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Clad in her customary white sari and chappals, the Trinamool Congress chief was the 23rd and the last speaker at the rally, and lashed out at the Bharatiya Janata Party and Prime Minister Modi in her own style .
Speaking in a mixture of Bengali, Hindi and English, something she has rarely done before, Banerjee, in every other sentence, broke into extempore couplets that appeared to be her own composition.
“We have heard raths of Lord Jagannath and Sri Krishna. What is this rath of yours? It’s just a five star hotel? We will not allow anyone to engineer riots,” she said.
Quoting a song of Tagore, she said the opposition front has a number of leaders and the BJP need not needle it on who will be the prime minister.
“Your party has become leaderless. Therefore, you have only one prime minister and one (party) president. We have a lot of leaders. We will decide later,” she said taking a jibe at the frequent question who will be the prime ministerial candidate from the opposition camp.
She also targeted Modi and said the Centre has not spared Bahujan Samaj party supremo Mayawati, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad, Samajwadi Yadav president Akhilesh Yadav and even herself. “Why would we spare you now?” she remarked.
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She also earned two sobriquets during the day. Former BJP Union minister Arun Shourie called her “the tigress of Bengal” while DMK chief MK Stalin said she is the “iron lady”.
Banerjee took up the microphone even before the start of the proceedings that were supposed to kick off at 12 noon and conducted the rally as a master of ceremonies.
She introduced each speaker — as many as 22 of them excluding her — and even did a bit of crowd management, asking those at the back rows to sit down when they got too excited and stood up to get a better view of the speaker.
“You have heard the names of many leaders present here, though you might not have heard them speak in front of you. Be patient and listen to them carefully,” she admonished those too restless.
“Not a single vehicle will leave this place before 4 pm. So don’t worry,” she was also heard telling the crowd.
She also had a word of comfort for Lalu Prasad’s son Tejashwi Yadav. “They have sent Lalu Prasad to jail. Don’t worry. After the government changes, who knows who will go where,” she quipped.