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Mamata protests alone, sending a message to BJP and Election Commission

Mamata sits on a dharna in her wheelchair at Gandhi Moorthi in Kolkata without any aides by her side, painting, and in a visibly sombre and reflective mood.

April 13, 2021 / 04:16 PM IST
Mamata Banerjee

Mamata Banerjee

She sat alone on a dharna in her wheelchair at Gandhi Moorthi in Kolkata without any aides by her side, painting, and in a visibly sombre and reflective mood. This striking image of chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday seemed to be her party’s reinforcement of the perception of she being the ‘lone woman’ fighting the might of the BJP and also taking on the Election Commission.

The last time when Mamata Banerjee sat on a dharna in central Kolkata was in February in 2019 when she protested against the CBI’s attempt to question Kolkata Police chief Rajeev Kumar and said she wanted to save the constitution and democracy. At that time, TMC leaders and aides were on the stage along with her and she continued with her dharna for three days till SC barred the CBI from arresting Kumar. The ‘Fighter Didi’ image of then seemed to add the ‘Victim Didi’ image during Tuesday’s dharna.

No party aide of Mamata Banerjee was there as she arrived around 11:45 am to sit alone on a dharna in her wheechair on Tueaday, about 50 meters away from television cameras in what seemed a deliberate strategy by the TMC to take the maximum political mileage out of the 24-hour ban put on her by the EC and to show how a woman CM is alone taking on her adversaries. She only had three fans, her mobile phone and her painting parenaphilia for company. TMC leader Derek O Brien briefly visited the media enclosure but did not offer any comments. It is expected that she would continue to sit at Gandhi Moorthi till 8 PM before proceeding for her two rallies tonight.  TMC supporters came to the media enclosure to cheer up the CM and criticised the EC action as well as the BJP.

The TMC's entire campaign has focussed on Banerjee’s face and lately how her injury and she being in a wheelchair could invoke sympathy among her core women voter base. The Sitalkuchi killings and the latest 24-hour ban on Banerjee by EC are being seen as a political lifeline for the party at a time when the BJP is claiming it is way ahead in the four phases which have polled so far.  While her injury may have restricted her USP of moving around on stage or walking into a village during the campaign, TMC has tried to make up with events like Tuesday which are a substitute for a non-campaign day with the event being televised live widely.

Banerjee will be escalating her campaign on Wednesday and visit Cooch Behar where five people lost their lives due to poll violence in Sitalkuchi. The EC had stopped all political visits there for 72 hours and that period ends tonight. The CM will go to Marhbanga Sub Division Hospital there and later hold five rallies tomorrow in Jalgaipuri, Darjeeling and Nadia. The 24-hour ban on her ends tonight at 8 pm. A BJP functionary however argued that the CMs dharna will have little impact as she was deeply unpopular in the state and the sympathy card was not working, even after her injury and the wheelchair campaign.
Aman Sharma is a writer at News18
first published: Apr 13, 2021 02:35 pm

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