Kolkata: Three weeks before the eight-phase assembly polls kick off in West Bengal, the state saw two blockbuster events on Super Sunday.
BJP’s commander-in-chief Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed at Brigade Parade ground in the capital city for his first rally in the state since election dates were announced, while Trinamool supremo Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee walked the streets of Siliguri in north Bengal in an all-women rally, to protest against fuel price hike.
All roads in Kolkata led to the historic Brigade ground, where the two stars of the rally were Narendra Modi and celluloid hero Mithun Chakraborty, who confirmed recent speculation by joining the BJP.
The crowd started building from early hours of morning. Hundreds of thousands arrived not only from different parts of the city, but from several districts. The sun was beating down, but they were in a festive mood.
Young boys were seen getting themselves painted at the ground. The Modi ‘bhakts’ had the face of the PM painted on their back and BJP party symbol lotus on their chest.
Members of the Matua community from Thakurnagar, both young and old, were present in large numbers as well. They danced to the beat of drums and sang paeans to the Prime Minister.
Abhishek Hazra, a member of the Matua community who had also attended Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s rally in Thakurnagar last month, said: “I share the same first name with Mamata’s nephew. But the famous aunt of my namesake is so busy in ‘abhishek’ (coronation) of her nephew that she has forgotten the people of Bengal. She had given us assurance that we are the citizens of India and despite having voter ID and Aadhar, we are treated like second-grade citizens. She might have done a lot for Boroma but after her demise, she has forgotten us. We feel that the BJP is also giving us false hopes on NRC. They might also forget us after elections. But what Amit Shah said in his rally in Thakurnagar is right. At this point, vaccination against coronavirus is more important than our citizenship.”
Sanjiv Guin, another Matua, felt that Modi’s Ayushman Bharat scheme has been beneficial to a lot of people. It should be applied in Bengal too.
“Though the ceiling of treatment under Ayushman Bharat and Swasthya Sathi is Rs 5 lakh each, patients are refused admission with the Swasthya Sathi card in district and Kolkata hospitals. Many critical patients are dying due to lack of treatment. We would like to get benefit under the central scheme,” said Guin.
There were people from Jharkhand too. All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) supporter Shailendra Yadav said he was keen to see Modi in person. “We have come to know that an AJSU candidate will be contesting from Bengal’s Baghmundi, which is good news for us,” he said.
A large section had come to see Mithun, who sported a beard and a skull cap.
Mithun, who was once close to the CPI(M) and even campaigned for the party, later switched allegiance to Trinamool Congress after Mamata Banerjee came to power. He later admitted that joining the TMC was a mistake. “Yes, it was a bad decision on my part.”
Satisfying his multitude of fans, he delivered the famous dialogue from his film ‘MLA Phatakeshto’ — “Marbo ekhane, lash porbe shoshane” (I will hit you here, you will land up in the cemetery). He followed it up with another of his popular film dialogue – ‘Ami cobra… ek chobol e chobi” (I’m a cobra… One bite and you are finished).
He sent his fans into a tizzy, who broke into thunderous applause and wanted more from the one-time superstar of Bengali and Hindi cinema.
Mithun did not disappoint them.
“Ami Bangali (I’m a Bengali, a son of the soil. Keep faith in Dada (he meant himself). Whatever Dada says, he delivers. He never looks the other way.”
The fans went back happy and satisfied.