The day after Mamata Banerjee was crowned coal and mines minister in Delhi, her hometown flock took to the streets, as if animal husbandry would have been her prized portfolio. Calf, dog and goat grabbed centre stage with MLAs, MP and the mayor to protest the proposed imposition of a tax on animals in the rural areas. And all without police permission, adds a staff reporter.
At 2 pm, the city centre resembled an animal farm, with Trinamul Congress supporters including 36 MLAs, MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay and mayor Subrata Mukherjee assembling there, the front file armed with the bewildered beasts (picture on right by Pradip Sanyal). Around 50 animals and 2,000 Trinamul cadre made their way through Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road, SN Banerjee Road, JL Nehru Road and into the Esplanade bus depot. Blocking the entire stretch from the bus depot to Rani Rashmoni Avenue, Mamatas men and mammals threw Friday afternoon traffic haywire.
Fiery speeches at the protest site saw cries against the anti-poor policies of the Bengal government, epitomised by livestock tax.
Talkathon over, it was time to court arrest. At last count, 1,862 supporters were taken into custody. It could have been 1,862 plus one, if an overzealous Trinamul supporter had not been stopped from carrying a baby goat into the police van.