Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Left leader Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee shared dais in Kolkata, exchanged greetings and gave a joint call for victory in the West Bengal assembly elections on Wednesday.
The Left Front and the Congress, considered traditional rivals, are fighting the ongoing polls in an alliance against the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC). Another contender is the Bharatiya Janata Party, which aims to find a foothold in Bengal politics.
The tone of the feel-good meeting in the poll was set by Bhattacharjee, who talked the association of top CPI(M) leaders with former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, Rahul’s father.
Bhattacharjee, a former chief minister, started his speech -- in his first public rally for the polls -- by addressing the Congress leader as “Dear Rahul Gandhi” and described the meet as “rare” in the country’s political history.
“You can very well understand the significance of this meet. Kolkata has not witnessed this before. This is rare in the country’s political history,” said Bhattacharjee, a CPI(M) leader.
“To save Bengal... we have to unite, and that is why we have united here,” he said.
Gandhi attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for ignoring the welfare of farmers.
“He goes to foreign countries but cannot go to Vidarbha (in Maharashtra) and other places where farmers are committing suicide. He cannot go to the drought-hit areas of the country,” said Gandhi.
He criticised the Bengal government over the Saradha chit fund scandal allegedly involving some Trinamool leaders and the Narada sting scandal that purportedly showed the party’s heavyweights accepting bribes.
Also present at the meet were state Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, former Union minister from the Congress Deepa Dasmunshi, Congress MP Pradip Bhattacharya and CPI(M )leader Shatarup Ghosh, among others.
(With inputs from agencies)