Mamata’s National Call
The country is going through ups and downs and 2014 is going to be the decisive year in deciding the political future of the country. The traditional political parties like Congress and BJP are gearing up for upcoming general elections. Newly formed Aam Aadmi Party too is showing its teeth. Regional parties will certainly play a decisive role in deciding the national politics and when it comes to regional parties Jayalalithaa, Mayawati and Mamata Banerjee figure on the top. But this time Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal and one of the most influential mass leaders in the country, is all set to play her national role for which she had started her campaign for the Lok Sabha polls, giving her clarion call to the nation from Kolkata Brigade Ground on January 30, 2014.
“Dilli Chalo, Bharat Goro” declared Mamata indicating Trinamool Congress is all set to play a crucial role in Delhi and national politics. “We will bring change in Delhi,” she said at the rally held in Brigade Ground, popularly known as Brigade Rally, which is organised every year on July 21 to commemorate the sacrifice of 13 Congress party workers who were killed during a demonstration in 1993. This day is observed as Trinamool Congress’ Martyr day (It is important to note that in 1993 Mamata Banerjee was a Congress leader and she continued celebrating this martyr day even after forming Trinmool Congress).
This year because of panchayat polls, the programme which couldn’t be held on July 21 was organised around this time keeping in mind the general election in the country besides thanksgiving to the people of Bengal for reposing their faith in her. Mamata Banerjee in her 45-minute speech launched a direct attack on Congress and BJP indicating that her party will go alone in the Lok Sabha elections. Mamata also renewed her call for a federal front of non-Congress and non-BJP parties, claiming, “The BJP cannot be an alternative to the Congress and the Congress cannot be an alternative to BJP… The TMC is the alternative for the country” distancing herself from both the prominent political parties of the country of which she was part of, once.
Mamata said people do not want a “rajtantra” hinting at the dynastic rule of the Congress and a “dangar much”, government of rioters hinting at BJP. “People want a government of peace and unity; people want good governance and rule of law, adding that this can be only provided by her.
Reacting to this, CPI(M) Central Committee Member Mohammad Salim said: “She may have spoken about the face of riots but she did not make it clear whether she would join hands with the BJP if Modi is replaced by someone else from the BJP.”
Another calculation says Mamata doesn’t want to make an alliance with Congress, as there is no hope for Congress in the election with issues ranging from price rise to corruption. The government is bound to fall and she is not exploring alliance with BJP as she may lose the minority vote bank since Bengal has a very huge number of Muslim population.
Mamata has also kept option open for other regional parties to join hands by saying, “In the Lok Sabha polls, the Trinamool Congress will give an alternative to the people. It will play an important role in the federal front with strong regional parties emerging stronger. The more number of seats you give us, the stronger will be our voice in Delhi.”
“We will give a united India to the people,” she said, urging millions of party workers and supporters at the Brigade Ground to give all the 42 Lok Sabha seats from Bengal to the Trinamool. Reacting on Mamata Banerjee decision to go alone in the election, Shakil Ahmed, the AICC leader who along with CP Joshi looks after Bengal for Congress, talking to Uday India said, there is no chance of a pre-poll alliance with the Trinamool. “We are putting up candidates for all the 42 seats,” he said.
From the stage of the Brigade Ground, which was made with the capacity to hold 400 people together, Mamata also addressed national issues such as price rise, corruption, reforms like opening up retails in FDI. At the same time she briefly outlined her national agenda—to bring back black money from abroad, to ensure fair returns to agricultural farmers for their produce, restoring the dignity of women and a government of prompt, clean action with morality.
The rally was also a show of strength to the opponents where she had brought some of her prominent allies and her state units in other parts of the country in the annual rally. Mamata Banerjee also declared that Trinamool will fight the Lok Sabha election in other states apart from West Bengal. Underlining the need for a “positive government” in Delhi, she promised to take her fight outside Bengal and introduced her leaders from Manipur, Assam, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Chennai and Kerala, hoping that many Trinamool MPs will also come from these states.
Ahead of general election in the country, the Trinmool Congress members, ministers, MPs, district and grassroots leaders have been asked to make the Brigade Parade Ground rally a historic one. Furthermore to reach a wider audience, the rally went with live telecast with updates on Twitter and other social networking sites and also 200 giant screens were set up across the city of Kolkata to beam the show live and another 19 screens were set up in the Brigade Ground itself. So Mamata was able to reach the maximum number of people in the rally, as it was marked by a record attendance of people from every corner of the state. Around 20 lakh people attended the rally. Life came to a standstill elsewhere in the city as party supporters began marching to the rally ground since early morning. It was well after evening that normalcy returned in Kolkata.
Praising Mamata Banerjee for her government’s work for the weaker sections and minorities, legendary writer and activist Mahasweta Devi expressed the desire to see the Chief Minister as the Prime Minister of the country. “Mamata has worked for the uplift of the weaker sections of society, including minorities and tribal community. Her work to restore peace in Jungle Mahal and Darjeeling Hills has no comparison. She is competent enough to be the Prime Minister,” said the 88-year-old Jnanpith award winner from the stage in Brigade Ground.
It is although very difficult to say at this point of time, what will be the political equation just before and after the election, but definitely regional parties and leaders like Mamata Banerjee are going to play a decisive role in deciding the future of the country.
By Joydeep Dasgupta from Kolkata