Mamata, just before turning her face away from the mike
The use of pepper spray by an anti-Telangana MP in Parliament sent Mamata Banerjee into titters on Friday. “Ki kando (what a ruckus),” the chief minister said at the inauguration of Mati Utsav in Burdwan, turning her face away from the mike. Mamata’s aside was barely audible to the 10,000-strong audience at Panagarh, but the message that followed was loud and clear. She ridiculed the Centre for “failing” to handle the Telangana issue and drew attention to how she had brought peace to Darjeeling, which had been in the throes of a statehood agitation.
Mamata was speaking about the “need” for more festivals like Mati Utsav when she suddenly changed track and broached the pepper spray episode.
“You saw what happened yesterday,” she said before turning her face away from the microphone and.
“We don’t need to shove and push. We don’t need to spray, we don’t need to fight,” she said, trying to suppress a smile.
After poking fun at the Centre, Mamata questioned the UPA II’s governance skills. “They are in a mess over the Telangana issue and they will run the country!” she said.
Mamata went on to speak about how she had stressed on development to solve the hill crisis.
“We solved the problem in Darjeeling by taking development to the people of the hills. These issues cannot be resolved by holding discussions in high places. One needsto reach out to the people and stand by them,”she said.
Besides development projects, the government took stern administrative steps to curb the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha agitation. Mamata visited the hills regularly.
THE LATENT MESSAGE
Trinamul sources said the main objective of Mamata’s speech was upping the ante against the UPA.
“She made it clear that her administrative skills are superior to the Congress’s,” a source said.
The other message, however, was overt, which author Mahasweta Devi made clear during her speech. “I want to see Mamata as Prime Minister.”
Reporting by Meghdeep Bhattacharyya, picture by Bishwarup Dutta