The maiden rally of intellectuals organised by the BJP trudged 4 km through the heart of the city, holding out placards against Mamata’s ‘misrule’ and raising expectations far bigger than their numbers. A few hundred locals rubbed shoulders and matched steps with celebrity faces known for their saffron leanings.
Leading the line of intellectuals at the do were actors Nimu Bhowmick, George Baker and Joy Banerjee (all contested the Lok Sabha polls and lost), journalist-turnedBJP national spokesperson MJ Akbar, magician PC Sorcar and former footballer Shasthi Duley.
“This is just a start. More intellectuals will join us in the future. The people of Bengal feel betrayed after bringing Trinamool Congress to power and want to vote for change again,” Akbar said.
The rally got rolling at about 2 pm and snaked through College Street, Nirmal Chandra Street, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road and SN Banerjee Road before reaching journey’s end at Dorina Crossing.
The rally, which was organised under the banner Bangiyo Buddhijibi Mancha, drew a turnout of barely a few hundreds. Quizzed why other top names in the city’s intellectual circuit chose to give the event a miss, Sorcar said, “The term intellectual is controversial these days.
To my mind, anyone who uses his intellect to earn his bread is an intellectual. A thief uses his brains and so does a politician.” A flood of intellectuals across mediums, including actorfilmmaker Aparna Sen, actor Koushik Sen, poet Sankhya Ghosh and thespian Bibhash Chakraborty hit the streets chanting Poriborton (change) in the run-up to the last assembly polls. However, none showed up on Tuesday.
BJP state president Rahul Sinha met Ghosh at his residence on Monday, but couldn’t convince him to join the rally. However, several of these distinguished faces also chose to keep away from the Trinamoolbacked rally of intellectuals held on Friday.
Sorcar claimed most of these intellectuals, who walked for Poriborton earlier, are now beholden to the ruling party. “Trinamool has its own team of intellectuals. Today’s rally is for the people who are fed-up of Trinamool,” Sorcar said. “Our’s is an apolitical forum and anyone is free to join us. Thousands have already supported our cause and number will only go up,” actor Joy Banerjee said.
He said unlike the ruling party, the BJP didn’t coerce or threaten people to join the rally. “But people still joined us in good numbers. Among those who walked the rally today were labourers, teachers, sportsmen and even fish traders,” Banerjee said.
“We’ll vanish all bad people,” said Sorcar with his trademark wink.