Kolkata, May 19 (IANS) Nestled between Gulmohar trees in full bloom and fragrant white jasmine bushes, the neighbourhood around West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s tiny single-storey residence at south Kolkata’s dingy Harish Chatterjee street virtually resembled an oasis of green on Thursday with her ruling Trinamool Congress thundering towards victory.
As the vote count post the state assembly polls progressed and gained momentum, so did the raucous cheers and loud trumpeting by party workers and supporters who had gathered near her residence in thousands — ranging from children to octogenarians — since dawn.
Carpeted in green, all roads led to “Didi’s bari” (Didi’s house) as supporters joyously waved party flags and smeared ‘abeer’ — the dry, green colour powder used in Holi festival — in celebration.
Dressed in all things green, they proudly flashed the party logo stickers on their faces and daubed visitors, including media persons, with green abeer.
Even the rain gods seemed to smile on the party. Thundershowers and a subsequent burst of sunshine infused supporters with extra energy and enthusiasm as they loudly proclaimed their allegiance to Banerjee, who had gone inside her residence, following a well-attended media conference.
Banerjee came out again, flanked by party leaders Mukul Roy and Derek O’Brien and her sisters-in-law, one of whom held a baby in her lap. In high spirits, the chief minister flashed a smile and a “V” sign.
Jostling for space in the rain behind barricades and metal detectors, people intently drank up every word she uttered (played out on loudspeakers) while they patiently lined up in the narrow alleys leading up to her residence and adjoining party office. Some recorded her speech.
Claps and cheers followed as she slammed the Left Front and said its alliance with the Congress was the “greatest blunder”.
“She will go from strength to strength and she has our full support in whatever she does,” S. Dey, associated with the party’s “Delhi Chalo” music score, told IANS.
Banerjee’s words were drowned amid chants of “Trinamool Trinamool”, blowing of conch shells and piercing ululations.
“She is our goddess. That is why the celebrations resemble a pooja (worship),” said Keya Ray.
Drum rolls followed as baskets of sweets and fried goodies, were brought in.
“The crowd is louder than it was in 2011,” observed a security person in plainclothes who was in-charge of Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek’s protection.
Unable to contain their anticipation, a section broke through the barriers and pushed aside the metal detector. The situation was quickly brought under control.
“It is a victory against conspiracy. There was an attempt to divide people based on Narada. It is a true victory,” said a party worker drenched in rain and daubed in green.
He was referring to the purported sting operation conducted by the news portal Narada that showed a number of Trinamool Congress leaders accepting wads of currency notes in return for doling out favours to a fictitious company.
The rumble of thunder, pitter-patter of rain and the cool atmosphere only seemed to reinforce Banerjee’s pet electioneering slogan “Thanda Thanda Cool Cool, Jitbe Abar Trinamool” (Keep Calm, Trinamool is coming to power again).