Mamata Banerjee personally served snacks to opposition leaders who attended her mega unity rally on Saturday. The eclectic spread included litti chokha from Bihar, masala dosa from down south, Bengal favourites fish fry, luchi alu-dom and nolen gurer patishapta, chicken tikka, gulab jamun and hot Darjeeling tea.
In a photo widely shared over the weekend, the Bengal chief minister is seen personally ladling food onto Tejaswhi Yadav’s plate and also, separately, on Gujarat activist Hardik Patel’s.
The refreshments were served after Mamata Banerjee’s “United India” rally at Brigade Ground in Kolkata that saw 23 opposition leaders share a dais, including from parties like the Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, DMK and Aam Aadmi Party.
Immediately after the rally, the leaders drove to Soujanya, an auditorium complex near the National Library, for tea and then a press meet.
The photo was tweeted by Sanjay Yadav, who describes himself as “political adviser to Ex Deputy Chief Minister, Bihar, Tejashwi Yadav”.
There was much praise for Ms Banerjee’s famous “humility and simplicity” in posts reacting to the photos.
But Ms Banerjee and the opposition leaders were not spared biting criticism and mockery.
Former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, National Conference chairman Farooq Abdullah, socialist leader Sharad Yadav, AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal and DMK leader MK Stalin attended the event. Former ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and dissident BJP parliamentarian Shatrughan Sinha were also present. Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi did not attend but sent Mallikarjun Kharge and Abhishek Manu Singhvi to represent the Congress.
Setting the tone for the national election due by May, opposition parties at the rally declared they would fight unitedly to oust Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP which, they said, was “past its expiry date”.