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PM Modi cruises through Kolkata despite Left protests, Mamata makes 'courtesy' visit

PM Modi cruises through Kolkata despite Left protests, Mamata makes 'courtesy' visit

Souvik Ghosh/IBNS | @indiablooms | 11 Jan 2020, 07:29 pm

Kolkata/IBNS: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's maiden Kolkata visit after returning to power in 2019 and most importantly registering Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s unprecedented surge in West Bengal was marred by citywide protests throughout the day though West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee paid a "courtesy" visit to him drawing taunts from the Left and Congress.

However, a feel-good element was present in the evening with Modi inaugurating the light-and-sound show of Howrah Bridge before heading towards Belur Math.

The day began with the launch of citywide protests by university students- mostly Leftists- who took out rallies from five different locations namely Golpark, Jadavpur 8B Bus Stand, Esplanade, College Street and Hatibagan while #GoBackModiFromBengal trended throughout the day on Twitter.

With mostly Indian Flag, the students staged a protest at Airport Gate Number 1 with an intention to block Modi's entry into the city though the Prime Minister took a chopper (helicopter) after landing at Kolkata Airport to reach Raj Bhavan.

At a time the students were blasting Modi with "Go Back slogans", Modi was warmly greeted by West Bengal Minister and Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim, who is one of the closest people of Banerjee who heads the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC).

Banerjee, drawing much ire and taunts from the Opposition, was present at Raj Bhavan beforehand to welcome Modi who had torn apart the TMC chief from a Delhi rally just few weeks ago.

Coming out from a closed-door meeting with the Prime Minister, Banerjee did interact with media and in her rare brief statements said, "I informed him (Modi) about the state's financial dues from the Centre. He said he will look into it.

I also raised the issues of Citizenship (Amendment) Act and National Register of Citizens (NRC) and asked him to reconsider. I clearly stated him that we oppose the CAA, NRC and also National Popular Register (NPR)."

But the Chief Minister's words were just not enough for the Left and Congress who accused Banerjee of making an understanding with the Prime Minister to "safeguard her nephew" from the investigative agencies over alleged scams.

Within hours, Banerjee, who was trying hard to imply her meeting with Modi was just a constitutional obligation, joined her party's students' wing's protest at Rani Rashmoni Avenue barely few metres away from Raj Bhavan.

"Till the time we are alive, we will not allow CAA, NRC and NPR to be implemented in the state," Banerjee said at the meeting which had a reasonable crowd.

Though she backed out from the scheduled Opposition meet on Jan 13 despite spearheading the anti-CAA-NRC protests in the state, Banerjee urged all regional parties to unite against the Centre and said, "The TMC will help all regional parties who will seek help to fight."

Blaming the Left and Congress indirectly for "spoiling the movement", she said, "Setting buses on fire in the name of movement actually spoils the purpose."

Visiting the Old Currency Building at an event in the meantime, Modi refrained from making any political statement but spoke about "India".

He said, "India’s history isn’t merely about battles and power struggles. Every part of India has unique art, culture and music. Our land has produced outstanding Saints, seers and social reformers who have led extraordinary changes in society."

Modi went to Belur Math in a jetty (launch) while the Leftists students occupied the entire downtown Kolkata to protest virtually collapsing the transport routes in major parts of the city.

The protests once again intensified when the Leftist students marched towards the Trinamool Chhatra Parishad (TMCP)'s protest site at Rani Rashmoni Avenue, trying to break barricades to reach Raj Bhavan though Modi had left the Governor's house by then after meeting a host of BJP state leaders including their president Dilip Ghosh.

As a major scuffle between the police and protesters was imminent, Banerjee drove back to Rani Rashmoni Avenue and tried to calm the protesters.

Urging the Leftist students to calm down, Banerjee said, "This is not Delhi Police. This is Kolkata Police. Our police are with you all. Both of us (TMCP and Left students) are fighting the same cause. I urge you to protest democratically."

Though the angry exchanges between the Leftist protesters and Banerjee died down for then, the students said they will continue to protest in Esplanade the whole night and the next day till Modi is in Kolkata.

Meanwhile, Modi spent some time in Belur Math and decided to stay there at night and meditate on Sunday morning.

(Images: Narendra Modi Twitter, PIB Twitter, CPI-M West Bengal Twitter)