Caustic sarcasm was the theme of Mamata Banerjee’s speech during her second march in Calcutta on Tuesday against the amended citizenship law and the National Register of Citizens.
The Trinamul Congress chief took out the procession attended by thousands from Jadavpur’s 8B bus stand to Jadubabu’s Bazar.
“Ei poshak bhalo, na kharap, bolun dekhi (Are these clothes good, or evil, tell us),” asked the Bengal chief minister repeatedly, pointing at clothes of various people, including herself, on the dais in Jadavpur, to loud cheers.
She was alluding to a speech by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an election rally in Jharkhand’s Dumka on Sunday. He had said those carrying out violence over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) could be identified by their clothes.
The Trinamul Congress chief, who delivered 20-minute addresses on either side of the 90-minute march over 7km, dwelled at length on Modi’s remarks.
“Now, there is no part of the country where protests aren’t taking place. Despite that, see, does this make any sense… supposedly, one can tell from the clothes of protesters, in mass movements, who they are,” she said.
“See, I am wearing something, see if you can identify anything on the basis of this. Can you? Very bad clothes, or very different clothes? My sister here is wearing something else, good or bad?” Mamata asked, before repeating the question four more times, about others on the dais.
“Or, are the caps on the heads which make you feel only they wear certain clothes and nobody else does?”
Persisting with the theme as the crowd kept responding with thunderous applause, Mamata asked if “they” would also find turbans that Sikhs wear offensive, or the white in the cassocks of the Christianity clerics.
“Some day, you will ask why I wear white Hawaii sandals and say you will make me switch to saffron sandals instead. Moha mushkil, bhai (Very troublesome, brother),” she said. “Supposedly, clothes can be used to identify participants in a political movement. I have never been able to think this way, bhai.”
“The movement, its essence, is the majority taking the side of the minority, standing up for it. I keep saying this, if the house is on fire, the residents — whether the name is Ram or Rahim — will all feel the heat. During floods, the water does not pick and choose its victims,” she said.
For the second consecutive day, she brought up the attack on students of the Jamia Millia University and called it “joghonyo (heinous)”.
Meet with governor
Bengal chief secretary Rajiva Sinha and director general of police Virendra are likely to meet governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Wednesday. Dhankhar had called upon top government officials on Monday to Raj Bhavan to brief him on law and order. But the officials did not visit him.
Three police personnel of Howrah police commissionerate suffered injuries in a clash with a group of protesters, who took out a rally in Sankrail defying prohibitory orders on Tuesday. The policemen were admitted to a nearby hospital. A large police contingent reached the spot.