Kolkata: She is in no mood to leave anything to chances. No place for complacency, no place to take things for granted – relentless campaigning to woo voters for the Bhabanipur bypolls slated to be held on September 30.
Yes, Didi is dead serious – we have seen her religiously seeking votes for her party candidates in the past, but this vigour to reach out to voters of her own constituency is a new phenomenon. Yes, Bhabanipur is a prestige issue for West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and she has to romp home come what may.
And she is leaving no stone unturned to get to the finishing mark. For Banerjee, Bhabanipur means Bharat which bears ample testimony to the fact that the bypoll victory means more than holding on to the CM’s chair. If she emerges victorious on October 3, the counting day, she is loaded with all ammunition to take on Narendra Modi and ilk to further her PM aspirations. Her verbal assaults on the BJP, a hallmark of her speeches on the campaign trail, lend credence to her ultimate destination which is New Delhi. Surviving with the stigma of a ‘non-MLA CM’ is arduous.
And she doesn’t shy away from playing the victim card with aplomb. After being denied permission by the Union government to attend a global peace conference in Rome, she lashes out, “There was a meeting on world peace in Rome, where I was invited. German Chancellor, Pope (Francis) are also supposed to attend. Italy had given special permission for me to attend, yet Centre denied clearance, saying it wasn’t right for a CM.”
And the three-time CM adds as ANI quotes, “You will not be able to stop me. I am not eager to visit foreign countries, but this was about the respect of the nation. You (PM Modi) keep talking about Hindus, I am also a Hindu woman, why did you not allow me? You are totally jealous.”
Banerjee is hardly dwelling on local issues and problems faced by the people of the seat but is using the campaign to build up her anti-BJP movement that has of late, lost a bit of steam. And hence, she is broaching everything from Pegasus to festivals to misuse of central agencies, all in a bid to ‘expose’ the machinations of the BJP.
Irrespective of whether she admits it or not, the Nandigram defeat in the Assembly polls has been a wake-up call. The taunts and sarcastic comments are unbearable for a leader of her stature and hence the aggressive retort. Didi knows, even a victory by a slender margin would scuttle her prospects at the national level, so it’s a do or die for her. Banerjee’s trusted lieutenants are pulling out all stops to reach out to voters – not a given in a bypoll and that also in an ostensibly safe constituency.
Banerjee holds nothing against her electoral opponents, Priyanka Tibrewal (BJP) and Srijib Biswas (Left). Her actual foes are Tibrewal’s bosses who are keeping a watch on proceedings.
Now that, Banerjee has more or less antagonised the Congress with her jibes, she could be looking for a non-Congress coalition to take on the BJP. With a plethora of aspirants, a bland performance (by her standards) in Bhabanipur as well as the other two bypoll seats in the state, would jolt her standing which she is aware of.
And her desperation is palpable.