West Bengal CM projects the IPL triumph as a new facet of her ‘paribartan'
What was to be a felicitation by the West Bengal government and the Kolkata Municipal Corporation of the Kolkata Knight Riders for their victory in the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League turned out to be yet another opportunity for Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to occupy the centre stage.
She did so in her flamboyant style with Shahrukh Khan, nominated by her as the State's brand ambassador, in tow.
Strutting about the arena as she conducted proceedings, Ms. Banerjee, microphone in hand, seized the moment to project the triumph on the cricket field as a newly discovered facet of her much-flaunted “paribartan” — a term whose political connotations cannot be missed.
“Today is the true ‘paribartan' our Chief Minister had promised a year ago,” said Governor M.K. Narayanan as Ms. Banerjee stood by, beaming. There was nothing hidden in the reference to what was her battle cry before she stormed to power in the Assembly elections of April-May 2011.
Even in the extravaganza, Ms. Banerjee did not let go a chance to put her stamp of authority. It was obvious in the choice of the originating point for the road-show — Hazra Road crossing which is her home turf in the south of the city.
The victory parade with the members of the victorious Kolkata Knight Riders waving out to the crowds from an open vehicle wound its way to Writers' Building and Eden Gardens.
But the celebrations were not without hiccups. While there was jubilation inside Eden Gardens, there was a near-stampede outside, as surging crowds tried to enter the stadium, breaking through the barricades.
Baton-wielding policemen and some youth carrying lathis tried desperately to keep them at bay. All that remained, after calm was finally restored, were shoes, sandals and water-bottles littered around and outrage.
Angry questions were raised about the security arrangements. The chaos left many in tears. “I wanted to catch a glimpse of Shahrukh Khan. I was shoved and pushed about and fell. Now I cannot find my belongings,” complained a woman.
For many, stars of Bollywood and Tollywood were more of an attraction than the cricketers who had won the laurels, though most of the international players were not there.
Large crowds assembled outside the State Secretariat where the victory procession had arrived earlier. Ms. Banerjee felicitated the cricketers at a stage outside the building and she and Mr. Khan joined them in the journey to the stadium in their bus.
“Bengal is proud that our Knight Riders team has been victorious. We believe that it has conquered the world,” said Ms. Banerjee, attired in her usual white sari but this time around one with a purple border, resembling the Kolkata Knight Riders colours.