Khela Hobe, she said. And the crowd roared back: Khela Hobe!
She chanted mantras, glorifying Ma Durga and Ma Kali. The crowd roared back.
She said, so whatever happened to Siya, in Jai Siya Ram? Where did Sita disappear? The crowd roared back.
She said she goes to the mandir, masjid, gurudwara and church. That is how she is a true, secular Indian. That is how all of you are true Indians. The crowd roared back.
She said, why can’t I come to UP? To Varanasi? Why are they shouting ‘go back’? I am not afraid of goondas. I am a fighter. So whatever happened to acche din?
Khela Hobe, she said.
And the crowd roared back.
With the Yogi, seemingly and willfully disappearing from the electoral battle, and in the backdrop of an edgy Commissar, Narendra Modi, camping in his own constituency, at the epicenter of the Hindi heartland, undoubtedly, it was game, set and match for Mamata Banerjee in Varanasi today. By all the signs in the spring-like horizon, there is a tectonic shift happening in the ground in UP. And it does not need a psephologist or a prophet/profit pollster to smell the wind in this changing season. It’s clearly blowing against both the Yogi and his Commissar!
They are making one mistake after another. What was the need to block the convoy of Mamata Banerjee knowing full well that she is a street fighter and a mass leader, and a more seasoned and veteran politician on the ground since her fighting Youth Congress days in an entrenched red bastion with a formidable and relentless opponent like the CPI-M?
With the memories of the incredible defeat of the Hindutva forces in the land of Kali, Durga, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Ramkrishna Paramhans, Vivekananda, Subhash Chandra Bose, Rabindra Nath Tagore and a kaleidoscope of social reformers, freedom fighters and revolutionaries, why play a bad game with bad moves, bad tactics and such a lousy strategy?
Come to think of it, it seems a win-win scenario is much too far-fetched for the BJP in UP in these assembly polls.
Come to think of it, clearly, and it’s there for all to see, it is Advantage Akhilesh!
SO, EITHER WAY, the north wind seems to carrying the hangover of a bitter taste for both the Yogi and the Commissar. If the Yogi loses, will the Commissar win? And if the Yogi wins, will the Commissar lose it all, or will it be his victory, and his alone?
That is a dilemma, and a Catch-22 trap for the BJP and the RSS, and there seems no light at the end of the tunnel in the current circumstances. Either way, it is Disadvantage Modi!
The Varanasi rally is only a pointer of the fact that the ground beneath the Hindutva feet is shifting so rapidly that both eastern and western UP seems to be hiding a hidden wave. With the angry farmers not even allowing established BJP rabble-rousers to campaign in Western UP, the angst and anger of the west seems to have rubbed off in the east too. With the Commissar camping in Varanasi, can he change his tryst with destiny, to use a Nehruvian cliché? It does not seem so! Not this time.
Clearly, as those rare and seasoned journalists have pointed out, even some bureaucrats seemed to have tasted the bitter ritualism in the air. So has the loyalist media in Delhi and elsewhere. Why else are they not talking the talking points of unabashed propaganda, fake news and eternal loyalty which speak the true narrative of their media character?
Between yesterday and tomorrow, there is nothing permanent. In this permanence of this ephemeral syndrome, the most inevitable ritual might shift its contour and acquire new shadow-lines. Hence, if the voters choose to vote out Yogi in 2022, can the Commissar hold his ground in 2024?
Time will tell. As of now, Mamata Banerjee has marked a new mantra.
Khela Hobe, she said.
The game is on!