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Mamata shows who’s boss

Mamata Banerjee is surrounded by a group of tribal dancers at a Trinamul Congress rally, which she addressed along with filmstar Mithun Chakraborty (below), in Ranchi on Saturday. Pictures by Prashant Mitra

Dhanbad/Ranchi, April 5: Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee today put the Jharkhand government on notice by pointing out that two of her newly recruited MLAs held the key to the Congress-backed Hemant Soren’s survival just as the Trinamul Congress would play kingmaker in installing a new government at the Centre.

Addressing rallies in Dhanbad and Ranchi, with filmstar and Trinamul Rajya Sabha MP Mithun Chakraborty by her side, Didi said a decision whether to continue supporting the JMM-Congress-RJD government would depend on “your feedback”, her own inimitable way for citing people’s power as a measure of her growing clout in national politics.

Hum chahta to aaj hi sarkar ko fenk sakta tha. Lekin hum aisa nahi kiya… Hum janta ka rai lena chahta hai, kyonki janta jo karta hai sahi karta hai. After Lok Sabha elections, hum isko dekhega (If I wanted I could throw the government out of power today. But, I did not do any such thing. I want to take public opinion. Because whatever public does is right. I will think it over after the Lok Sabha elections),” she said at Ranchi’s Morabadi grounds.

Mamata arrived in Ranchi from Dhanbad around 3.35pm by which time a modest crowd had waited for more than two and half hours under a blistering sun.

Kyon media ka bhai log, number sahi hai na?” she turned to journalists as she did a roll-call of her new recruits. Bandhu Tirkey (Mandar MLA), Chamra Linda (Vishunpur MLA) and Chandra Shekhar Dubey (Vishrampur MLA) have so far pledged support to the Hemant Soren government, which has 40 MLAs on its side in an Assembly reduced to 79 members after three MLAs, including two from JMM and one from Congress, resigned from their parties.

So far, Trinamul has put up candidates in 11 of 14 Lok Sabha constituencies in Jharkhand. Today’s rallies, at Dhanbad’s Prabhat Stadium in Mugma and Morabadi in Ranchi, were well attended considering Bengal’s ruling party is a new entrant to Jharkhand politics.

There were over 10,000 people in the coal town constituency where the party has fielded Dubey, a Congress discard and motormouth, and barely 4,000 in Ranchi where it has fielded Tirkey, who is facing a CBI probe for corruption during his days as minister in former chief minister Madhu Koda’s cabinet.

In Ranchi, Mamata spoke for about 35 minutes and included a couple of old patriotic film songs in her repertoire.

She dubbed the BJP “communal” and the Congress “corrupt” and asked the people not to vote for the two parties as she had seen their functioning from close quarters during the time she was associated with them.

“Neither the BJP nor the Congress has done anything good for the three new states of Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand which have huge economic potential. But Congress and BJP leaders looted these states, encouraging corruption at all levels,” she said.

At the same time, Mamata made it clear she was not in favour of creation of Telangana as she was against dividing the country.

Convinced that the Trinamul would be in the driver’s seat in the formation of the new government at the Centre, Mamata said, “We have put up candidates in Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, Tripura, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh seeing our rising popularity.”

Like Narendra Modi, who never loses an opportunity to cite Gujarat’s economic prowess, Mamata, too, harped on the “success” of the Bengal model of governance.

“Come to Bengal and see for yourself. Whether you are Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Bihari, or Jharkhandi, or speak Bhojpuri, Odia, Bengali or Assamese, or you belong to any other state… people are living in Bengal in harmony. Everyone celebrates all festivals together,” she said.

She wrapped up her speech at both venues by reciting, and at times singing, film songs. “Raat jitni bhi sangin hogi, subah utni hi rangin hogi,” she said, alluding to better days that a TMC election victory would herald.

Asking voters to keep the faith in Trinamul, she also sang a verse from Aye mere watan ke logo.

Mithun set the mood before Didi took the stage. “Kya baat, kya baat, kya baat,” he thundered like he does on a popular television dance show and asked the crowd to vote with a positive attitude.

“Vote is useful. Do not waste it. Do not present yourself as if you are exercising your franchise to defeat someone, do so to make your party victorious,” he said and promised to return to Jharkhand again.