New Delhi: While Mamata and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) may have tried their best to invoke the sentiments of the gathered supporters by urging them to chant slogans like “FDI pravesh karega, Aam Aadmi Marega” (If FDI will enter, the common man will die) and “Diesel ke Vaar, Aam Aadmi pe Maar” (Targetting diesel is targeting the common man) —even as speakers blared patriotic songs like ‘Bharat Desh Hai Mera‘ and ‘Dil Diya Hai Jaan Bhi Denge, Aye Watan tere Liye’— Didi’s ‘aam aadmi‘ weren’t even sure of why they were at the rally.
While some said they were promised food and drink, others thought they were coming for a meeting with Mamata. For some, coming to Delhi was an outing and still others took it as an excuse to bunk work.
Many were incredulously ignorant about why they were even at the rally.
Mamata, the TV persona
Cherubic Anup Das from Chakkarpur Village in Gurgaon was enthusiastically waving a TMC flag, wearing a T-shirt with Didi’s photo and the party’s logo and chanting, “Trinamool Congress Zindabaad“.
So why was the nineteen year old at the protest rally? To see Mamata Didi —the TV persona.
“Me and my friends have come here to see and meet Mamata Didi. We have seen her on TV and the person who brought us told us we will be able to see her in person,” Das told Firstpost.
When asked about what he was protesting against, Das said, “We are not protesting. We were told to come and praise Mamata Didi and Mukul Roy and the party and that’s what we are doing.”
Das’ eyes lit up when asked about what he was getting in return for attending the rally.
“We got a banana each and a packet of water to drink. We were also told that we will get lunch,” he said.
‘Diesel hike, I don’t know much it is’
A tutor at the Jamiatul Kuran Madarassa in Jamia Nagar said he was there to “strengthen the hands of Mamata Didi” and protest against the increase in prices by the Central Government and it’s green signal to bring FDI into India.
Mohammad Arif Khan, said he came to the rally at the behest of a friend from Nizammuddin East. “We should protest against the increase in diesel and gas. It affects us because we get such little salary and we can’t pay for diesel and gas if prices are increased.”
So how does it personally affect him?
“I have a scooter and I have to pay for it’s diesel,” says twenty seven year old Khan who owns a Honda Activa. Never mind that the Honda Activa runs on petrol.
When asked how much the price hike for diesel was, Khan looked blank and then shrugged saying, “I don’t know how much it is. Why do you ask, don’t you know?”
Another acquaintance of Khan, from Nizamuddin East —wearing a skull cap and an impeccable white kurta—who was also present at the rally, was shooed away by Khan when he was talking to Firstpost. When asked why he was at the rally, the acquaintance told Firstpost he was called to Jantar Mantar to meet Mamata Banerjee.
‘For some villagers, it was an outing’
Poonam Saini, a newly wed, was excited about her outing to Delhi from her village in Jind district of Haryana.
“I do housework all day at home, so I was more than happy to come here to support Mamata Didi. After all, she is doing stuff for us and helping decrease prices of commodities,” says the nineteen year old. “We cannot be paying over Rs 700 per cylinder we use,” she added.
Saini didn’t know that the government had decreased the number of subsidised LPG cylinders to six a year. She was under the impression that every cylinder will cost her over Rs 700.
Saini came to Delhi with her aunty and around 150 other women in about 25 paid for cars. “They paid for the transport, so we are happy to be here,” she said.
Sixty year old Misro, Saini’s aunty, sits holding a placard that says “Hai mehangai. Janta ki Mamata ne awaz Uthai. Kendra Sarkar bald faisla” (Oh this inflation. The mother of the people, Mamata, has raised her voice. The Change must change it’s decision). But, not only does she know what the placard means, she can’t even read it.
“We were brought here and told to praise Mamata Didi and hold these placards. I don’t know what’s written on it,” Misro told Firstpost.
Komal Kapoor, 28, coordinator for the women from Jind district in Haryana, said she was there to protest against the Congress for saying it will give only three subsidised cylinders of LPG to people in a year.
“We are demanding for at least 12 cylinders at a subsidized cost each year. What will women do with just three cylinders a year?” she asked.
The government has decreased the number of subsidised LPG cylinders per household to six a year.
While Kapoor is clearly misinformed, she is happy to be at the rally. Why? “They have promised us food,” she said.