3.10pm: What’s a Mamata rally, without some ‘culture’ thrown in. So, here comes the trumpet, and the public is treated to a version of Jana Gana Mana, straight out of a black-and-white movie! And the last time anyone has heard Vande Mataram shouted in that manner, it had to be in a Bhagat Singh film! And if you thought subtlety was not her thing, think again! She just concluded her speech asking people from ‘Mumbai and Bihar’ to join her in the stir!
3.05pm: Now, she says what is easily music to the BJP’s ears. However, though NDA convenor Sharad Yadav had announced yesterday that they will not bring a no trust motion against the UPA, Mamata declares that they will do whatever is possible within a legal framework, to bring the government down. “We don’t want this government to stay. If it is required, we will bring a no confidence motion against the government. We will not let them exploit the public,” says Mamata.
3.00pm: In case you forgot the Independence Day poems, Mamata just reminded you of all of them. From Saare Jahaan Se Accha to Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna, Banerjee recites from all poems known to Bollywood war movie lovers! She then rattles off the names of almost all the states, to say that she will defend all of them from a ‘bloodsucking’ government. “They want set-top boxes for TVs, they want FDI, they want a cap on LPG cylinders. How much money do they want from us? Get back black money and use that in your government!” she advised. Pranab Mukherjee might just be thanking his stars realising what he has narrowly escaped!
With Mamata, spice can’t be far behind. Don’t blame us, if we see Bollywood written all over her. Sample this: “Dokanwalon, ap dukan bhi chalaon, protest bhi chalaon!” Doesn’t it sound uncannily similar to a certain ‘gaonwalon’ dialogue from Sholay!
2.50pm: Mamata declares a dharna in Delhi in November 19 and 20. She adds that in Lucknow she’ll organise another dharna in Lucknow on November 17. “I’ll ask Mulayam ji and Akhilesh to join me and support me,” she declares.
2.40pm: The speech, which is easily a refresher’s course in Bengali and Bengali pronunciation, now questions the UPA’s mishandling of its relations with the allies. “I had told them that bring in FDI in aviation, but only after saving Air India. But I had told them that we will not listen to them.” “Humko dhamak dene se kuch nahin hoga!” Wondering what ‘dhamak’ is? Scolding, in Bengali!
2.25pm: Mamata waxes eloquent about the ‘qurbani’ (sacrifice) that her party has made. Just when she launches a poetic tirade against the UPA – hum ladte ladte qurban ho jayenge – some over enthusiastic photographer catches her attention. She forgets poetry for a moment, and goes back to what she sees in Kolkata everday – a conspiracy, a conspirator and a plant! “Who is that photographer? Why is behaving weirdly? I had information that the government has planted someone to disrupt meeting! But I’ll keep cool,” she shouts. While the photographer, presumably, hopes that he disappears Mamata goes back to how UPA has destroyed the aam aadmi!
2.25pm: Mamata teaches Delhi a thing or two about making a crackling speech. With a blatant disclaimer seeking apology for her ‘toota phoota’ Hindi, Mamata launches her tirade against UPA in Hindi. The casualties? UPA and Hindi grammar!
2.15pm: With the speech artist that JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav is and Mamata’s own flair for verbal athletics, 10 Janpath might well want to put the ear-plugs in already. However, the expected speech volley runs into hiccups as Yadav trips over not one, but a couple of Bengali names. Who knew an average Joe of a name that Suvendu Adhikary is, could trip the word master like Sharad Yadav?
1.48 pm: JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav at Jantar Mantar
JD(U) supremo at Mamata Banerjee’s rally site at Jantar Mantar. Along with TMC may collaborate to form a third front. TMC chief Saugata Ray says all TMC leaders will participate in dharna.
1. 40 pm: Mamata Banerjee reaches Jantar Mantar
TMC chief Mamata Banerjee reaches Jantar Mantar to lead rally against FDI in retail. Some 15,000 to 20,000 supporters present at rally site. Counter launches counter-offensive in West Bengal, protests Mamata Banerjee.
1.30 pm: TMC’s own supporters disrupt speeches at rally
The speeches were disrupted by the TMC’s own supporters who were sloganeering on instructions from the party volunteers—prompting a speaking minister to say, “Keep quiet you people. Stop your sloganeering for now and concentrate on what’s being said. After all you have to go back to your villages and say these things. Keep quite and go behind and stand!” Mamata Banerjee was slated to arrive at Jantar Mantar.
1.25 pm: Congress decides to launch counter rally in West Bengal
“UPA’s aim to make the common man poorer through FDI in retail,” says TMC leader Sudip Bandhopadhyay.
1. 15 pm: Not all supporters know why they’re at Mamata’s Delhi rally
Even as over a 1,000 people have gathered at the protest against FDI and price hikes, many have no clue about the issues being protested against.
Wearing a skull cap and impeccable white kurta, a man from Delhi’s Nizamuddin— who was shooed away by his “in-charge” when he was talking to Firstpost— said he was called to Jantar Mantar to meet Mamata Banerjee.
The gathered crowd still awaits Didi’s arrival.
PM, Sonia to address rallies explaining need for FDI in retail
Speaking at Delhi state Congress function, chief minister Sheila Dikshit said, “There are going to be rallies where the PM and Sonia Gandhi are going to explain the benefits (of FDI in retail)”.
The first rally will be held at Delhi’s Ramlila ground on 28 October, which is likely to address by the PM and Mrs Gandhi. Also speaking at the DPCC function, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma defended the FDI in retail, saying that people thought multi-national fast-food giants like Dominos and McDonald’s will kill Indian brands, but “they have reached London, nothing happened to them”.
12.32 pm: Meanwhile, TV reports say West Bengal Congress has started a rally against Mamata and in support of FDI in retail.
Khurshid says Mamata’s support base limited to Bengal
11. 55 am: Congress leader and Union Law & Justice and Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has taken on TMC chief Mamata Banerjee over her protest against FDI in multi-brand retail. Claiming that Mamata’s support base is limited to West Bengal, Khurshid said that her views on economic reforms are different from those of the Congress’s, reported IBNLive.
“There was stress on us when we wanted to do some reforms. Clearly her point of her view and ours were different. I don’t think she has a base out of Bengal. Even Narendra Modi hasn’t been able to move out of Gujarat. I wish her all the best,” said Khurshid.
TMC leaders reach Jantar Mantar
11.00 am: TMC leaders have arrived at Jantar Mantar in Delhi to stage the protest. Among the TMC leaders present are Derek O’Brein and former Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi. TMC chief Mamata Banerjee will soon reach the venue to begin the rally.
After parting ways with the UPA, Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee will for the first time lead a demonstration today against “anti-people” decisions of the Centre.
“It is an unprecedented decision by Banerjee to hold a rally at Jantar Mantar in the national capital to press the Centre to review its decisions on FDI in retail, cap on subsidised LPG and diesel price hike,” Trinamool Congress MP K D Singh said here on Sunday.
He said the demonstration was part of the party’s resolve to show solidarity with the ‘aam admi’ who has been hurt the most by such decisions.
“Withdrawing from the UPA was the first step. A series of protests have been planned in the coming days till the decisions are withdrawn,” he said.
When asked whether Trinamool Congress would support a resolution in Parliament against FDI if it is brought by BJP, former railway minister Mukul Roy evaded a direct reply.
“Who brings what is not the issue. The actual issue is the decision of the government which is anti-people…the then finance minister (Pranab Mukherjee) had assured Parliament that any decision on FDI will be taken after consulting all stakeholders and after evolving a consensus. That has not happened,” he rued.
In her Facebook post, Banerjee had recently said: “Let us fight the battle boldly and unitedly. In a democracy, people are supreme. Our voice is the voice of the people. We must raise our voice, so that the government must reconsider.”
She said the party’s fight for the cause of common people continued with the help of ‘Maa, Mati, Manush’ throughout the country.
TMC, which has 19 members in the Lok Sabha, pulled out its six ministers from the government on September 21 and withdrew support to the Congress-led UPA on these issues.
With inputs from Agencies