Mamata ends campaign at CM seat

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 26.04.11
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The many moods of Mamata Banerjee at the Jadavpur rally on Monday afternoon. (Sanat Kumar Sinha)

Mamata Banerjee signed off her campaign in Calcutta on Monday with a public meeting — her first of the day — at Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s constituency, Jadavpur.

The venue was the same as the one where the chief minister had stood a day earlier, appealing to be voted back to power.

Before campaigning ended in the city at 5pm, Mamata’s last appeal to voters who have elected Bhattacharjee for 24 years: “Help me bring about change.”

For more than six months, she has been following the chief minister, holding meetings at the same venues.

Around 3.15pm on Monday, Mamata’s convoy rolled out from her Harish Chatterjee Street residence and headed for the Juba Sangha ground, also known as the Layalka ground, near Baghajatin. Thousands stood there, braving the sun to catch a glimpse of Bengal’s “chief minister-in-waiting”. Mothers jostled to get their children blessed by Mamata.

She took the microphone at 3.45pm and spoke for 20 minutes. “I had wanted to hold the meeting yesterday but I was told that the venue was booked. I had to come here, so we decided to organise the last meeting in Calcutta here,” she said.

According to sources, Mamata considers the venue lucky as she had addressed a campaign rally for her party candidate Kabir Suman before the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. The singer eventually won from the area.

The Trinamul chief would want her latest Jadavpur rally to also prove lucky for former chief secretary Manish Gupta, who is pitted against his former boss, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. Mamata has predicted that Gupta will defeat the chief minister by 30,000 votes.

Mon ta khochh khochh korchhilo (Something was bothering me). I come here at least once to hold a meeting. People here have always supported us,” Mamata told the 6,000-strong audience.

The chief minister did not address a rally or take part in a road show before the campaign bar in Calcutta came into effect at 5pm on Monday. Like Mamata Banerjee, he moved to the other side of the Hooghly in the afternoon. In his speech at Udaynarayanpur College Maidan in Howrah, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee targeted Union home minister P. Chidambaram and accused the Trinamul Congress of fomenting trouble in the state. Howrah will go to the polls in the fourth phase on May 3. Picture by Gopal Senapati

The core of her speech was no different from the nearly 100 speeches she has delivered so far this election season.

“Change is what you wish for. It is development by another name. People are coming back after 35 years to witness this change. This is Bengal’s second battle for independence,” Mamata said, drawing claps and cheer.

About Bhattacharjee, who had addressed four rallies in his constituency on Sunday, she said: “You have given his party opportunities for 35 years. Why give them another chance? There is a limit to the number of opportunities someone can get.”

She also repeated her promise of a turnaround in Bengal with 10 lakh jobs in two years and improvements in health, education, industry and investment. “There is nothing that cannot be achieved. We have to try.”

By the time the campaign ban in the city kicked in, the SUV carrying Mamata was minutes away from Howrah’s Baragachhi hospital ground, where she started her campaign for the fourth phase of elections.