Thursday, March 1, 2012

When in doubt, take a walk - Buddha’s Jadavpur roadshow pulls crowd, CM lines up reverse replay

When in doubt, take a walk
- Buddha's Jadavpur roadshow pulls crowd, CM lines up reverse replay

Calcutta, Feb. 29: Few vanquished have had the satisfaction of seeing the victor retrace their steps in so short a span as nine months. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee may count himself a blessed exception, if Mamata Banerjee keeps her word this Saturday.

Bengal was tonight staring at the unusual prospect of a chief minister hitting the streets against her predecessor after Bhattacharjee led a huge padayatrain Jadavpur to denounce an attack on a CPM party office there yesterday by Trinamul activists.

A few hours before the former chief climbed on to a jeep, Trinamul announced that chief minister Mamata Banerjee would walk from Gangulybagan to the Jadavpur 8B bus stand on Saturday.

But the chief minister cannot be accused of following in the footsteps of the person she unseated in one of the most spectacular election triumphs in India. If she presses ahead with her plan, Mamata's march will begin from where Bhattacharjee was originally supposed to end his procession today and conclude at his starting point.

The contrast with the run-up to the Assembly polls nine months ago is striking: walkathons were her blockbuster mode of campaign and she had set the pace then. The CPM leadership, nursing age and fitness disadvantages vis-à-vis Mamata, had then jumped on to jeeps in a scramble to match her street savvy.

This time, Mamata will have to wait till Saturday as she is now in Darjeeling. Other Trinamul leaders will walk from the 8B bus stand to Gangulybagan tomorrow evening.

However, after Trinamul today announced the route that mirrored Bhattacharjee's, the former chief minister was forced to accept a change. Bhattacharjee, who lost the Jadavpur Assembly seat, acceded to appeals to stay the course till Garia, where the rally formally ended.

The initial plan was that Bhattacharjee would get off at Gangulybagan where the party office was ransacked while the rally would proceed to Garia.

"However, the cheers and support that Buddhada got made our party decide that he should cover the entire stretch. It wouldn't have looked nice had he left mid-way as people were waiting for him on either side of the road. We brought this to his notice and he agreed to cover the full stretch,'' a CPM source said.

The entire party machinery and sympathisers rallied behind Bhattacharjee and cheered him as he stood on a jeep that wound its way through several parts of the Jadavpur Assembly constituency that he had represented from 1987 till May last year.

Thousands stood along the rally route to offer namaskar to Bhattacharjee or wave at him. The former chief minister, who didn't utter a word during the rally, waved back.

The rally also crystallised recent signals that the party has decided Bhattacharjee, whose policies have also been blamed for the Left debacle, should lead the fightback. "If we try to make a turnaround, or some effort to bounce back, it should be under Buddha-da's leadership,'' a CPM state committee member said.

"There have been attacks on our men since the Assembly elections and yesterday's attack on our party office is another instance. So, our leadership decided to strike the iron when it is hot. And who else can lead us but Buddha-da? He is the face of our party,'' the state committee member added.

According to a CPM source, the crowd's "spontaneous" cheers and claps on seeing Bhattacharjee's jeep moving along Raja Subodh Mullick Road in Jadavpur this evening was somewhat "unexpected", given the drubbing the party had suffered under his leadership.

CPM leader and former MLA Kanti Ganguly went so far as to spy the green shoots of a turnaround. "Buddhababu had been saying before the elections not to bring Trinamul to power as there would be anarchy. But the people did not listen and they voted for change. People are now beginning to understand that there was some truth in what he had been saying," Ganguly said.

Some CPM supporters and sympathisers raised slogans such as "Trinamul sarkar, aar nei darkar (Trinamul government is no longer needed)".

Announcing the Trinamul programme, industries minister Partha Chatterjee said the former chief minister "had the audacity to hold a rally in an area where the masses rejected him last May".

"Buddhadebbabu has chosen to walk against this government, but he shall get a fitting reply…. The people of the area are urged to join both peace processions (of Trinamul) and protest the attempts of the CPM to halt normal public life," he added.

 More stories in Front Page

  • Cops plan anti-extortion cell
  • Bread or bomb deal for Korea 
  • CM blames Centre for delay
  • India nudges Iran on route
  • Tourism awards for Sikkim
  • Maya faces irony of empowerment
  • Adviser's exit exposes police ills
  • When in doubt, take a walk
  • Lashkar man with state link in cop net
  • 25 injured in highway bus mishap 
  • Jail for ex-boyfriend death
  • Ramesh sees hope in Saranda at last 

No comments: