The victory was expected. The scale may be not. But as the day progressed, there could be seen looks of vindication and relief on the faces of Trinamool Congress supporters.
That was before it gave way to euphoric, unintelligible screams. The sudden downpour failed to wash away the sea of green, as they smothered each other with the celebratory green gulaal.
And then began the march towards party supremo Mamata Banerjee’s house at Harish Chatterjee street — the epicentre of the party and for a few hours on Friday, the nucleus of the state’s political fabric.
Mamata came out to meet her supporters a little after 11am. A press conference soon followed; after all, victory seemed certain. She smiled and waved at her supporters and a roar raged through the narrow lane outside her house. “This isn’t any victory,” screamed her supporters outside. “This is vindication”.
Even though fluorescent green rosogollas were freely distributed after the emphatic victory over the Left Front-Congress “understanding”, bitterness remained the common thread tying the party supremo and her supporters.
“They spread lies about Mamata Banerjee. She is our leader and we will not tolerate this. She has done so much for the state. What has the Left done for the poor? They lined their pockets with cash and then when they lost, suddenly they pretended to be simple, poor people,” said Sumitra Deb, a vegetable seller and Mamata’s neighbour.
Within an hour, Mamata betrayed the same sense of bitterness while addressing a press conference. Though she wished her Opposition well, she noted, once again, that “politics had reached its lowest point” during the campaigning for the elections.
When she called for peace, questions rippled through her supporters, with one of them voicing his annoyance: “They abused us. They deserve to be thrashed. But if Didi says no, there will be no retaliation”.
Senior leaders in the party, many who had been denied meetings with Mamata in the preceding weeks, rushed to her residence. One of the earliest to reach was state urban development minister Firhad Hakim.
He walked to Mamata’s house, greeting supporters, hugging fans while stopping for the occasional selfie. “We are happy that the people of Bengal haven’t given into the lies spread by the Opposition. Democracy is truly alive,” he said.
Kolkata remained largely deserted with many choosing to stay at home, fearing political violence. The routinely-clogged roads saw only zipping clutches of motorcyclists armed with TMC flags, umbrellas, green gulaal and victory slogans.
“Victory is ours. Where is the Left now,” some of them called as they raced up and down Hazra Road —- the road outside Mamata’s residence, which had been barricaded by the police.
By evening it was obvious that this wasn’t just any victory. Two-thirds majority in the Assembly seemed inevitable. Mamata had hinted at her plans for the future, particularly regarding increasing her party’s presence in north Bengal and bringing industry to the state.
But as far as her supporters were concerned, questions about “what next” were kept aside for later. Doubts that had occupied their minds the past few weeks could be banished. Celebrations continued.