Almost all non-BJP parties to participate in January 19 rally: Mamata
The January 19 rally in Kolkata organised by the Trinamool Congress is billed as a show of strength to unite opposition against the BJP ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.Updated: Nov 16, 2018 17:19 IST
Almost all opposition parties have confirmed participation in the January 19 rally in Kolkata being organised by the Trinamool Congress, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on Friday, in what is billed as her show of strength to unite opposition against the BJP ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Banerjee told party leaders to start holding booth level meetings and create wall graffiti to draw crowds for the rally that was first announced on July 21.
“All parties except one or two have confirmed participation. Block level presidents should begin booth level meetings right away to prepare for the meeting. There should be at least 30 wall graffiti at each booth level,” the chief minister told the leaders at a meeting.
Leader of the opposition in Bengal Assembly and Congress MLA Abdul Mannan said the decision on participation will depend on the party high command in Delhi.
CPI(M) central committese member, Rabin Deb said, “CPI(M) leaders will certainly not attend. As far as we know, Left Front allies such as CPI and RSP will also stay away.”
Going by Mamata Banerjee’s statement on attendance, it appears that the Left parties including the CPI(M) are the only ones yet to assure her of her presence.
“Though she is dreaming of becoming the Prime Minister by uniting opposition leaders, it will remain a pipe dream,” said BJP Bengal unit president Dilip Ghosh.
Significantly, Telugu Desam Party chief and Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu is supposed to meet Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata on November 19 to persuade her to attend the meeting of the opposition leaders in Delhi on November 22 he is organising.
On July 21 this year, when she announced the rally of non-BJP parties in the city, Mamata Banerjee said that she will invite Kerala chief minister and CPI(M) leader Pinarayi Vijayan though the India’s biggest communist party has been her bitterest opponent down the years.
Training her guns for the first time at the BJP’s rath yatra in Bengal that is supposed to start on December 5, she directed Trinamool leaders to organise processions of the people in each area on the following day.
“These processions should be held just the next day along the same route to purify the road through which the rath would travel,” she said.
She ridiculed the saffron exercise as a “Ravana yatra” and said, “These are no chariots. These are air-conditioned busses with 5-star luxury.”
“She is increasing our honour by deciding to follow us. It shows how seriously she is taking us,” said Dilip Ghosh.
“Trinamool is afraid of the growing popularity of BJP in Bengal. Let them follow us,” said BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha.
Trinamool to contest in Assam, Jharkhand
During a 45-minute speech, the Bengal chief minister also said that her party will field candidates in Assam and Jharkhand and appointed leaders to oversee the party organisation in the states of Assam, Tripura (Bobby Hakim), Mizoram, Manipur (Derek O Brien), Jharkhand, Bihar and Maharashtra (Dinesh Trivedi).
“We will focus on the areas where Bengalis are concentrated,” said a minister after the meeting.
She also told Trinamool leaders said during the Lok Sabha elections they should check the EVMs thrice to ensure the machines are working properly. On polling day, and hour before polling starts, the presiding officer in each booth invites polling agents to demonstrate that the EVMs are working perfectly.