Mamata Banerjee with Abhishek Banerjee
If the BJP has Bal Narendra, the Trinamul Congress has Balak Abhishek.
While the fearless Bal Narendra swam through a lake infested with crocodiles, Abhishek, then all of two years, tended to his wounded aunt, swore revenge on those who attacked her and dedicated his life to public service.
The exploits of Bal Narendra are chronicled in a comic series that purports to tell the story of Narendra Modi’s childhood.
The tale of the unswerving determination of little Abhishek was told by none other than his aunt herself — to an audience at Diamond Harbour on Saturday.
Abhishek Banerjee is the Trinamul candidate from Diamond Harbour and his aunt Mamata Banerjee was campaigning for him.
At a time the Opposition has alleged that Mamata’s brothers and sisters-in-law had amassed property worth Rs 20 crore in Calcutta, the chief minister defended her decision to field her nephew in the Lok Sabha elections.
“He was barely two years old when CPM goons hit me on the head. O amake ese bolechhilo, ‘pisi, boro hoye ami badla nebo’ (He came and told me, aunt, I will avenge this when I grow up),” Mamata said at the rally in Diamond Harbour, referring to the alleged assault on her in 1990.
“He also said he would not take up any job after completing his education. Rather, he would join politics and serve the people,” the chief minister added.
Mamata, however, insisted she has no family and lived alone since her mother’s death in 2011.
The decision to field Abhishek, who she had made chief of the fledgling Trinamul Yuva after coming to power in 2011, in the elections had raised several eyebrows in the Trinamul Congress as the chief minister has on several occasions articulated her aversion to dynasty politics.
Even on Saturday, Mamata said she had not given poll tickets to “those born with a golden spoon”. “I have selected those who can be with the people,” the chief minister added.
At a rally on the Brigade Parade Grounds in January, Mamata had said she did not want “rajtantra (dynastic rule)”, making clear her disapproval of Rahul Gandhi as candidate for Prime Minister.
While announcing Trinamul’s list of candidates for the Lok Sabha polls, Mamata had said the choice was the “best” in the country. On Saturday, she offered an explanation.
“Candidates from the younger generation are needed because they will be able to serve the society and the country for the next 30-40 years. That is why I have selected Dev and Abhishek apart from well-known personalities from different walks of life,” Mamata said.
The chief minister said that instead of offering a “safe seat” to Abhishek, she had fielded him in Diamond Harbour. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, when Trinamul had an alliance with the Congress, Somen Mitra had contested and won the seat. This January, Mitra switched over to the Congress and is contesting the Calcutta North seat.
The contest in Diamond Harbour will have a fifth dimension this time, with former CPM leader Samir Putatunda entering the fray as a PDS candidate.
At a rally in Calcutta later, Mamata scoffed at Congress MP Adhir Chowdhury’s allegation that Trinamul had forged a “secret deal” with the BJP to put the central probe into the Saradha scandal on hold.
“A secret deal has been forged between Trinamul and the BJP for putting the ongoing probe by the Enforcement Directorate into the Saradha scam on hold. A secret deal has been worked out to ensure no CBI probe into the Saradha scam takes place should the BJP come to power after the polls,” the junior railway minister and Congress candidate for the Behrampore seat had said earlier in the day.
Without naming Adhir, Mamata said at the Calcutta rally that there was “no match-fixing”.
“Someone has said that we have reached an understanding with the BJP. There has been no such thing. We are never going to join hands with the BJP. There is no got-up match, no match-fixing. We will bat here and get them bowled out in Delhi,” she said while campaigning for Sudip Bandyopadhyay on Beadon Street, which is part of the Calcutta North constituency.
During a public meeting on Friday, BJP national president Singh had promised a special package for cash-strapped Bengal.
Referring to the Saradha issue and the Opposition’s demand for a CBI probe, Mamata said at the Calcutta rally: “They had raised the Saradha issue before the panchayat polls and are repeating it now. We used to respect the CBI earlier, but from the day the agency sold itself and became the Congress Bureau of Investigation, we have no faith in it.”
Diamond Harbour votes on May 12