Trinamul national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee on Thursday evening began an "indefinite sit-in" in front of Raj Bhavan, declaring his intent to stay put till governor C.V. Ananda Bose returned, met a Trinamul-led delegation and answered questions on the long overdue wages of Bengal’s MGNREGS job cardholders.
The ruling dispensation holding an "indefinite demonstration" in front of Raj Bhavan is fairly unusual even by the tempestuous standards of Bengal politics.
“We will continue this peaceful demonstration in front of Raj Bhavan till the governor meets our delegation and listens to us. We will continue our dharna peacefully. I will spend the night here, I will not leave this dais,” said Abhishek after a three-hour protest outside Raj Bhavan, which followed an hour-and-a-half’s march of the thousands that he led from Rabindra Sadan.
A section of Trinamul leaders said the party’s protests led by Abhishek in Delhi and Calcutta, demanding the release of central dues to Bengal, assumed significance as the 35-year-old Trinamul MP is flying solo, given the forced absence of Trinamul supremo Mamata Banerjee on medical grounds.
“After the two-day protest in Delhi, our young leader has now started cornering the governor. Bose is the constitutional head of the state, so he should ask the Narendra Modi government to at least clear the overdue MGNREGS wages in Bengal,” said a senior Trinamul leader.
On Thursday, thousands of people marched over 3km from Rabindra Sadan to Raj Bhavan.
The party set up a stage in front of the north gate where the party’s senior leaders and elected representatives were present.
Abhishek's announcement to stay there, indefinitely, was new, surprising some even within Trinamul.
Bose flew to north Bengal from Delhi to take stock of the flood-like situation there and returned to the national capital.
Trinamul workers showed black flags to him in front of the state guesthouse at Siliguri.
A source in Raj Bhavan said the governor was not likely to return to Calcutta on Friday, but might be back on Saturday.
“We wrote to the governor seeking his appointment on Wednesday. After we did not get a reply our MP Derek O’Brien sent him an email for an appointment. Interestingly, he (the governor) asked our delegation to meet him in north Bengal. We did not have any problem.... But he asked to reach north Bengal with a notice of two-three hours, as he left Siliguri before 4pm. Our protest is against this jomidari (feudal) mindset,” Abhishek said.
A Trinamul delegation submitted a memorandum to Raj Bhavan, seeking an appointment with Bose on his return.
“Trinamul mounted an attack on the Constitution itself and its pillars,” said the BJP’s state chief spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya.