This is the first time in its history of 22 years that the Trinamool Congress will observe the July 21 Martyr’s Day rally, virtually. The day entails a ritual of paying tribute to the 13 Youth Congress leaders, who got killed in police firing in Kolkata in 1993. It also has a four-hour-long programme so it is usually a cultural jamboree. The party’s leaders will be present, joining CM Mamata Banerjee in raising slogans. As the show-stopper of the event, Mamata was always the last to deliver the speech. She also represents the most crucial one, which the party workers and supporters soak in like words from the holy book of politics. For 22 years, Mamata’s Martyr’s Day speech came to represent a set of guidelines she wanted her party and supporters to follow. As for Mamata, the Martyr’s Day rally, which inevitably turned out to be huge with the massive presence of seven to 10 million people, it was a tryst that convinced all that the Mamata magic still worked.
For 22 years, Mamata’s Martyr’s Day speech came to represent a set of guidelines she wanted her party and supporters to follow. (Photo: Reuters)
However, a lot of speculation and anxiety is in the air as to how the virtual rally would be played out; whether the 55 inch TV screen would be able to capture and recreate the magic of a throbbing and pulsating reality of a political rally, comprising a variety of human faces, forms and multiplicity of human emotions. Mamata is as tensed as the party supporters and workers of 79,000 booths, who will be on the virtual seat of the audience to listen to her. If things were normal, and there was no pandemic in the world, this Martyr’s Day rally would have been big, considering this year being crucial before the state Assembly election, scheduled early next year. The Martyr’s Day rally, to Banerjee, had always been a barometer to read the pulse of the people, the political direction in which public opinion was blowing. A rally with a record presence of people meant a rush of adrenaline for the leaders, an assurance that people were with the party and that the latter still had the capacity to mobilise a gathering.
The rally, which symbolised a show of strength, was a kind of muscle-flexing to keep rivals under control. Besides poll results, political rallies over the years also came to represent the prevailing political mood. In the last five months, because of Covid-19 all political rallies got cancelled and took the virtual route. This is Trinamool Congress’s first attempt to connect 7 to 10 lakh people. “The reach could be even wider if a minimum of 50 party workers and supporters from each of the 79,000 booths attend,” said a Trinamool Congress leader. But as far as reading the public mind or the psyche of the voters is concerned, virtual viewership might be a poor weather-cock.
After the 2019 Lok Sabha results where Trinamool Congress faced considerable drubbing, this Martyr’s Day rally could have been a big opportunity for Mamata to understand if the damage could be controlled, but that was not to be. In fact, the municipality election and civic body elections, scheduled in May-June had to be stalled because of the Coronavirus. Though there would be many political rallies in the run-up to the 2021 elections, provided normalcy returns, it wouldn’t be any time this year.
With a mightier BJP nibbling at the heels and challenging to overthrow the Trinamool Congress, Mamata indeed needs a significant political rally to pump up her muscles and give the required push for taking on the opponents head-on.
(Courtesy of Mail Today)