"Those who have left us in anger have to be brought back. We have realised our mistakes," said CPI(M) leader and West Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at a rally in the heart of Kolkata on Sunday.
As the crowd swelled, Brigade Parade Ground turned red with left flags and buntings. "The only way we can pay homage to our comrades who died in violence is to bring back the Left Front to power," Bhattacharjee said.
The industry friendly image Bhattacharjee had nurtured came to be interpreted in several quarters as one going against the spirit of the party’s policy. This time the chief minister reinforced his pro poor stance.
"The Congress has only indulged in corruption and nepotism. It has made the rich flourish while the poor suffered. The Congress wants to overthrow the Left and in this it has its ally, the Trinamool, working with the Maoists to unleash terror and destroy everything that we have achieved through land reforms and panchayati raj."
Bhattacharjee’s Sunday speech was in tune with the ones during his recent district tours. So not much surprise was in store for the 8,00,000 who travelled to Kolkata.
Leaders of the ruling party's allies -- the Revolutionary Socialist Party, Communist Party of India and Forward Bloc -- too had little new to offer the crowd, which was looking for a punch.
This became clear when Socialist Party leader and fisheries minister Kiranmoy Nanda drew the loudest applause of the day when he resorted to a certain campus slang to call Union railway minister Mamataa Banerjee "a liar".