|What now' Mamata
in Calcutta on Thursday.
Picture by Bishwarup Dutta
Calcutta, Dec. 7: Mamata Banerjee today pointed out that there was no “direct request” from Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and refused to end her fast, prompting some of her exasperated associates to wonder whether such an appeal is the face-saver she is waiting for.
In response to the chief minister’s appeal to her at Infocom 2006 to “give up fasting”, Mamata said: “Buddhababu is using television channels to spread his appeal to me. The chief minister did not directly request me to end my fast. There was no official communication between us. I won’t budge an inch.”
But a Trinamul leader, who has been trying to persuade her to call off the fast, said: “Mamata did not directly reject the appeal. Her principal objection was to the manner in which — through the media — the appeal was conveyed to her. There is a possibility that she might view a similar appeal more sympathetically if the chief minister speaks to her directly and expresses his concern to her.”
Some Trinamul leaders, who feel it is now in the party’s political interest to end the fast, said the “ideal opportunity” was presented yesterday when governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi visited Mamata and expressed concern about her health.
Mamata today said: “The governor did not tell me to end my fast. He paid a courtesy visit to enquire about my health.”
Mamata spent much of her time today sitting and addressing the crowd at the hunger-strike site, unlike the other days when she was often on her feet. Many followers read this as a sign of the fast taking its toll.
The fast was beginning to worry the CPM, too, as a health situation can have a political fallout. CPM state secretary Biman Bose, who rarely misses a chance to taunt Mamata, today appealed to her “as an elder” to call it off.
“If the Opposition leader falls sick due to her fasting, it will only harm her movement,” Bose said. “She is already indisposed. As an elder, I request her to end her fast and meet the chief minister or send her emissaries to meet him.”