Darjeeling, Sept. 27: Mamata Banerjee today did what she is best at: she worked the crowd to their delight.
Starting with, the “public” is the most important, and that the hill people had the “glaze” of the Kanchenjungha, Mamata had the crowd cheering her as she listed the projects that she had on her mind for the hills.
The Trinamul Congress chief’s first move to “reach out” to the people occurred at Darjeeling railway station this afternoon when she broke the security cordon and walked across the stage to clear a posse of security and media personnel.
“I think you are obstructing my view of the public,” she said much to the delight of the 1,000-odd people assembled there.
She immediately took the microphone and directed Union minister Mukul Roy to make arrangements so that the chairs on the dais were pushed back further to make space for the dancers. “I can understand the stage is small and I apologise for the inconvenience,” she said directing the media personnel who were obstructing the public’s view to come up to the stage and “stay still and quiet here”.
Mamata gifted Rs 500 to a group of Bhailo dancers according to hill tradition. During Diwali, Bhailo performers visit houses where people give them money as a goodwill gesture.
The end of an early Diwali and two more dances, Mamata struck the chord, and rightly so in Nepali. “Mato mero atyantai pyaro/Pahar mero sapna/Darjeeling ko bhai bhaini haru ramro rahun/Theyi cha mero kamana (My land is my love and the hills are my dream. My best wishes to the brothers and sisters of Darjeeling).
“I am learning Nepali and this is what I could learn within a day. I need to come here frequently,” she added promising to return to the hills after two-three months again.
She sealed the hill bond when she offered a “salute” to the members of the Gorkha Regiment.
Before announcing her intention to provide jobs to the families of eight Kargil martyrs and special preferences for ex-servicemen for jobs in the railways, Mamata said: “I salute their achievement and contributions to their nation.”
“We are proud of Darjeeling and I love Darjeeling,” she kept repeating. In fact, she used at least eight qualifying words in one sentence to describe the hill people in English. “The youths of Darjeeling have great potential. They have integrity, compassion, loyalty, honesty, sincerity, devotion, commitment and credibility. You have the glaze one finds in the Kanchenjungha,” she said, before promising to set up a “watch factory, soft toy manufacturing units because of suitable weather and invest in IT”.
“There has been no development here,” she said to empathise with the people. “Schools have not been upgraded, teachers have not been recruited, tea industry is in doldrums, there is no electricity, food prices are high, tourism has not been exploited and there is shortage of drinking water.”
Constantly interacting with the crowd, she said: “These are the projects I have announced. Have you understood it fully? Are you happy with these announcements?” she constantly asked.
Someone from the crowd shouted if a sports facility could be set up by the railways. Pat came Mamata’s reply: “Why not? The railways don’t have much vacant land in the hills. We will identify a space and why not, we can always set up a sports facility.”
Around 3pm, Mamata attended an event celebrating World Tourism Day at the Mall and boarded a toy train for her ride to Batasia Loop from where she made off to Siliguri in a car.