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Fiery Mamata Anchors Event & ‘Gatbandhan’ at Mega Opposition Rally

Mamata steals the show at mega opposition rally.

Published
India
4 min read
Fiery Mamata Anchors Event & ‘Gatbandhan’ at Mega Opposition Rally

“This rally marks the beginning of the BJP’s end.”

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, sounding the battle bugle for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, made an impassioned appeal to the nation to unite against the Modi government.

If she started her speech with “Just like medicines have an expiry date, the BJP government is past its expiry date”, she concluded it with the chant “badal do badal do, Dilli mein sarkar badal do (change the government at the Centre)”, urging the vast ocean of heads at Calcutta’s Brigade Parade Ground to join her in chorus.

In what appeared to be a two-pronged strategic attack, Mamata, speaking in English, Hindi and Bangla, not only listed the controversies that the BJP government has found itself in but also kept endorsing the Opposition parties present on stage as a united and cohesive force.

Even though Mamata carefully refrained from projecting herself as a PM candidate and made only a couple of passing mentions of Bengal politics, the success of the mega Opposition rally is sure to leverage her credentials in the nascent mahagathbandhan. All the leaders who spoke at the rally congratulated her for organising the event and ensuring a massive turnout.

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Rebuttal to ‘If Not Modi then Who’ Jibe

Speaking before a crowd that in Bengali parlance would be described as a ‘jana tsunami’ (a tsunami of people), Mamata delivered a stinging rebuttal of the BJP’s recurring question of , “if not Modi then who?” and that ‘mahagatbandhan’ lacked a prime ministerial candidate.

“All the leaders present here can be capable prime ministers. In this unity, we are all leaders and we are all workers,” she said. “Once the elections are done we will sit together and decide on the PM. You do not have to worry about that now.”

Her statement came in response to BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy’s press conference, in which he questioned the Opposition on its prime ministerial candidate.

Projecting Mahagathbandhan Unity

In defending and endorsing the Opposition, a highlight of her speech was the projection of the entire ‘Mahagatbandhan’ as a united force. The primary thrust of her narrative appeared to project the united Opposition as a credible alternative to the BJP and in doing so made no mention of herself as a PM candidate.

She said that the job of each party is to defeat the BJP in its state. She also added that across India people have already made up their minds.

“I will urge Chandrababu Naidu to do a meeting in his state. If Arvind ji does a meeting in Delhi, we will ago. If Mr Farooq Abdullah hosts a meeting in Kashmir we will all go,”
Mamata Banerjee

She also reiterated allegations made by leaders who spoke before her. “What did Arvind Kejriwal say? He said what Pakistan hasn’t been able to do in 70 years, the BJP has done in four years.”

Repeating RJD leader Tejaswi Yadav’s “lorbo, korbo, jeetbo” call, she elaborated upon it by saying “if you can fight then fight, if you can do something then do it otherwise vacate your throne”.

As the final speaker at the “United India Rally” that saw several parties, including the Congress tearing into the NDA government, Mamata touched upon and summarised nearly all the controversies of the government that the others had spoken about. From dilution of CBI and RBI’s powers, to joblessness, attack on press freedom to destruction of the country’s secular fabric, she launched an attack on the incumbent government on multiple fronts.

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Poetry and Politics

Never one to shy away from flexing her poetic muscle, Mamata peppered her 20-minute long finale speech with a variety of verses and couplets to make her point. On price rise and inflation, she delivered a clever rhyme in Bangla – “Bajar e legeche aagun, jagun banglar manush jaagun, jaagun bharatbarsha jaagun” (market prices are on fire, wake up Bengal, wake up India).

She employed poetry again to drive home her message on secularism in India, a topic Mamata has frequently harped on at all her public appearances. “Tyaag ka naam hai Hindu, Imaan ka naam hai Musalman, Pyaar ka naam hai Isaai, Sikhon ka naam hain balidaan. Yeh humara pyara Hindustan”.

Loot er taka e vote, lootche shobai note” (Cash for votes, everyone is looting notes) was her response to Modi’s demonetisation and GST moves, which rebel BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha, too, had attacked by asserting that the BJP party wasn’t aware of demonetisation and that it was purely a PMO decision.

She also repeated, what is perhaps among her favourite and oft quoted poems by Ram Prasad Bismil Azimabadi, “Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamare dil mein hain, dekhna hain zor kitna baazu-e-qaatil mein hai” to underscore the preparedness of the united Opposition in taking on the Modi government.

BJP Does Not Accept the ‘Laxman Rekha of Politics’

In what came across as a more personal attack, she accused the BJP of vindictive politics.

While most of her speech was focused on the political, policy and administrative lapses of the government, she also defended leaders of the mahagatbandhan who had run afoul of the BJP including a number of BJP’s own leaders who, she said had been ill-treated by the party.

“You did not spare Sonia ji, you did not spare Lalu ji, you did not spare Akhilesh, you did not spare Mayawati, you did not spare me, you did not spare anyone. Why should the others spare you then?”
Mamata Banerjee

“There is a courtesy in politics, you don’t know the courtesy. There is a laxman rekha in politics, you don’t accept the laxman rekha.”

She also accused the BJP of disrespecting and ill-treating its own leaders. “What did you do with Rajnath ji? What did you do with Sushma ji? What did you do with Nitin Gadkari ji?” she asked in the presence of senior BJP leaders Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and Shatrughan Sinha.

Welcoming former Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Gegong Apang, who left the BJP earlier this week, she said, “Congratulations on quitting BJP”. Giving Apang and rebel BJP leaders like Shourie, Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha a prominent place in the rally can also be seen as Mamata’s way of inviting other leaders from the ruling party to jump ship.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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