While Mamata Banerjee was sworn in for a second term in office as the Chief Minister at a massive rally on Red Road on Friday afternoon, there was a visible and distinct attempt to project her nephew Abhisekh Banerjee on this big occasion as the “Man of the Match” for the Trinamool Congress.
A large number of posters were seen not only in different parts of South Kolkata on Friday, but also at vantage points on the swearing-in ceremony venue on Red Road which read – “Man of the Match – Abhisekh Banerjee”, “real match winner – Abhisekh Banerjee”.
But informed sources said that some senior Trinamool Congress leaders who had noticed the banners and placards arranged for their silent removal from some parts of the swearing-in venue.
Abhisekh Banerjee himself was seen at one point of time having been carried on the shoulders of enthusiastic party supporters who cheered towards the meeting ground on Red Road and shouting slogans. Within the Trinamool Congress, top party sources said that there is a powerful group in the party who went about systematically to project him and bring him into the limelight.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee herself seems to have given a tacit patronage to the campaign. After the party’s shock defeat in about 15 seats in this election, including the defeat of eight ministers, Mamata banerjee set up an internal inquiry committee and along with senior veteran leaders like Mukul Roy and Sudip Bandopadhyay, Abhisekh Banerjee was inducted as a member.
What might have egged on a section of the party’s enthusiastic young brigade, is the role that was given to Abhisekh Banerjee in the run-up-to the state assembly polls. Abhisekh Banerjee was given charge of several districts in which he acted as an observer for selection and nomination of candidates, their campaign and to ensure their victory.
He was believed to have succeeded to a great extent in districts like South 24 Parganas and Purulia – to name just two. An overwhelming majority of the seats in these two districts went to the Trinamool Congress despite internal problems. Abhisekh Banerjee was believed to have done a lot of ground works to sort out the squabble in the run-up-to the polls.
In the latest move by Didi, Abhisekh was given the responsibility to fix the poll debacle in Nadia district where several Trinamool Congress candidates suffered unexpected defeats. Ajoy De who had migrated from the Congress to the Trinamool Congress was one in whose defeat Didi was shocked and wanted to identify those who were suspected to have done the mischief.
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However, if the “Man of the Match-Match Abhisekh Banerjee” posters were one of the highlights of the day’s event, the meeting venue on Red Road was a real mismatch for it to became a “people’s swearing-in ceremony.” There was a distinct “disconnect” between the ordinary, enthusiastic party workers and viewers who had turned up.
The podium was so far removed from the audience that it hardly gave any positive vibes to the assembled crowd. Many seem to turn up at the end of the long rows, wait for some time and then move on to save themselves from the scorching sun.
The VIP enclosures were in doldrums with much more cards distributed than the spaces could have accommodated. Bimal Gurung and Roshan Giri – the men from the hills were seen sitting uncomfortably under the open sun, sweating profusely. Gurung said, “Let’s see. She had a massive mandate. We will have to work in tandem for the development of the hills. The protocol so demands.”
But the middle aged Santanu Mandal had a little grudge. “Last time in 2011, we had seen Didi walking down to Writers Buildings and almost touching every one she crossed on the way. This time, there was no such opportunity. Didi and we were standing far apart,” he rued as he headed home with his group.