For the first time in her political career, chief minister Mamata Banerjee will speak at a mega rally of Muslims in Kolkata, which is expected to highlight the voices against intolerance.
The meeting will be held at Shahid Minar grounds in the heart of the city on November 26 (next Thursday). It is being organised by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, one of the largest organisations of Bengali speaking Muslims which controls over 1,000 madrasas in the state.
The move is expected to earn the chief minister brownie points among the minority community, who play a crucial role in any election, before the assembly polls next year. She is expected to give a message to the community that day.
“I have spoken to the chief minister and she has agreed to grace us with her presence and speak in the public meeting. Our organisation believes that we should work with the chief minister for the development of Muslims in Bengal and not maintain a distance from her,” said Siddiqullah Chowdhury, the general secretary of the organisation.
Nearly three lakh Muslims, clerics, madrasa students and ordinary residents are expected to turn up during the rally. According to the organisers, the vice-chancellor of Kalyani University, Ratan Lal Hanglu, former chief justice of India Altamas Kabir, the vice-chancellor of Dar-ul Ulum Deoband, Qari Md Osman, will also be present.
“First, the rally will speak for national unity and the end of intolerance in the country. We will speak against the recent incidents of intolerance. We will also press for the implementation of reservation for Muslims, which has been announced here. We will also protest against the attacks on innocent Muslims and urge Saudi Arabia to work for the greater Muslim brotherhood, not against it,” said Chowdhury.
On July 15, Siddiqullah Chowdhurym et Mama ta Banerjee at Nabanna and spent over one and a half hours with her.
If the Trinamool Congress chief speaks at the November 26 meeting, it would be a rare first. Mamata Banerjee has been vociferous against the alleged atmosphere of intolerance nationwide.
With the state assembly polls only a few months away, minority votes are crucial for Mamata. Since the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the minority voters have swung towards Mamata and this helped pave the way for ‘Poribartan’ in 2011. Muslims comprise around 28% of Bengal’s population.
Jamiat leaders on Tuesday held a meeting with the commissioner of police and other top officials to discuss the arrangements for the November 26 rally.
“The Kolkata police will make proper arrangements and we will also set up help booths. Since lakhs will come, we are making elaborate arrangements,” added Chowdhury.
The organisation was also seen holding protest rallies in Kolkata and districts over a variety of issues, be it the terror taint on madrasas after Burdwan blasts or a protest rally against the Paris terror attacks.