|Mamata Banerjee on the motorcycle. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
Nandigram, Nov. 11: The streetfighting spark in Mamata Banerjee roared back to life today as she gave the CPM a run for its money on a motorbike.
Her Scorpio blocked by CPM cadres, the Trinamul Congress leader rode pillion on a supporter’s Pulsar and zig-zagged her way out of the knot of protesters before they could collect their wits.
The agile response that belied Mamata’s 52 years helped her reach a Tamluk hospital where many of the Trinamul-backed resistance group are being treated for grievous injuries.
Accompanied by two Trinamul leaders, she had set out for Tamluk on Saturday night in the black Scorpio. After spending the night at Calcutta Port Trust’s guest house in Kolaghat, Mamata resumed the journey around 10.30am.
“Her convoy was blocked on NH-6 near Panskura for 15 minutes by CPM supporters,” said a police official.
When the convoy was again waylaid at Radhamonibazar, 90km from Calcutta, Mamata waited inside for nearly an hour.
Around 60-70 CPM supporters waving red flags squatted in the middle of the road, raised slogans such as “Mamata Banerjee murdabad” and hurled expletives at her.
“We asked her to stay in- side the vehicle. But the CPM supporters did not budge,” a policeman escorting the Scorpio said.
Sources said Mamata then got in touch with her party leaders in the district over the phone. After an hour, around 50 motorcycle-borne youths assembled at the crossing and approached her vehicle.
Anisur Rahman, a Trinamul activist and a resident of Panskura, offered “Didi” a helping hand. Sporting dark shades and a hands-free mobile phone ear piece, Rahman was dressed for the job, barring the mandatory helmet.
The “oversight” — there was no headgear for the pillion rider either — did not prevent Mamata from accepting his offer of help. She readily hopped on to the motorcycle.
Jumping to their feet, some protesters tried to obstruct the bike. But an enraged Mamata shouted at them, momentarily throwing them off guard and giving Rahman enough time to speed past the blockade.
Much to the glee of her party supporters, Mamata showed the thumbs-up sign before disappearing down the road.
Around 1pm, hundreds of Trinamul supporters, who had been waiting near the hospital for Mamata, were taken aback when they saw her on the bike.
“Didi eshe galo… (Didi has come),”a roar went up as the crowd surged towards her.
“The state government has been killing people at will. This is genocide,” Mamata said as she strode into the Tamluk hospital.
The Trinamul leader staged a dharna near the police superintendent’s office after leading a procession. “Lawlessness is prevailing here. Nandigram is in complete disorder,” Mamata said.
The number of dead, she added, was close to 100 in yesterday’s firing.
The Scorpio that was left behind was later driven to her hotel in Tamluk.