Kolkata, March 8 (IANS) A day after an all-women grand show in Siliguri, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee on Monday hit the road with a massive rally in the heart of Kolkata to observe International Women’s Day.
The mega rally started from central Kolkata’s College Street crossing and culminated at the Dorian crossing in Esplanade. Armed with placards and posters, thousands of women activists from the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress took part in the rally, raising ‘Mahilara Didikei Chae’ (women want Didi, as Banerjee is popularly known) slogans.
Women candidates like June Malliah, Sayantika Bandopadhyay, MLA Chandrima Bhattacharya, party MPs Nusrat Jahan and Mini Chakraborty, among others, walked with Banerjee in the rally. They also protested against the hike in LPG prices.
“We are always with Didi. She is a symbol of inspiration for the women in Bengal. The Trinamool government has done a lot for our empowerment in the society. The Kanyashree scheme has helped thousands of women in rural Bengal,” said Priya Dey from Maniktala, who took part in the rally.
Monday’s march is seen as one of Mamata’s masterstrokes to woo female voters ahead of the Assembly elections in the state.
The roadshow was primarily led by women party workers, including many prominent faces like actors Sayani Ghosh, Sayantika Bandopadhyay, Kaushani Mukherjee and popular singer Aditi Munshi, who had recently joined the Trinamool camp. Last week, a slew of Tollywood celebrities had joined Trinamool Congress.
“On International Women’s Day, I want to congratulate all the women around the world. Best wishes to my sisters (and brothers too). The government of West Bengal is committed to the welfare and empowerment of women,” Munshi tweeted.
Banerjee said that in Bengal, Swasthya Sathi health cards are issued in the name of the eldest woman in the family. Also, since 2011, more than 6.7 lakh self-help groups (SHGs) have been formed across the state, empowering about 90 lakh women, the Chief Minister said.
“While the Centre has not yet brought the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Parliament, I am proud of the fact that Trinamool Congress has 41 per cent women MPs in the Lok Sabha and 31 per cent in the Rajya Sabha. We have also reserved 50 per cent seats in the local bodies for women candidates,” Banerjee said.
In poll-bound Bengal, the BJP had attacked Banerjee’s government several times on women’s safety issues. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also sharpened attacks on the incumbent state government on the same.
Earlier, Trinamool Congress had launched its poll slogan ‘Bangla Nijer Meyekei Chay’ (Bengal only wants its own daughter) portraying Chief Minister Banerjee as the ‘daughter of Bengal’. Posters and large bill boards were also hung all across Bengal with Trinamool chief’s photo and the slogan mentioned on it ahead of the high octane elections.
In reply, the BJP state unit had also released a poster featuring nine women leaders from Bengal like Rupa Ganguly, Deboshree Chaudhury, Locket Chatterjee, Bharati Ghosh, Agnimitra Paul and others with a counter slogan that read “Bangla Tar Meyekei Chai, Pishi Ke Noi” (Bengal does want its daughter, not a paternal aunt).