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Mamata to embark on nationwide tour to garner support for TMC’s anti-BJP rally

The list of leaders Mamata Banerjee would like to meet include Sonia Gandhi, Lalu Prasad Yadav Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati and K Chandrasekhar Rao, a member of her cabinet said.

india Updated: Jul 22, 2018 17:07 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Mamata Banerjee rally Kolkata,Mamata Banerjee rally,Mamta banerjee latest news
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had announced January 19 as the date for the anti-BJP rally in Kolkata during the annual Martyr's Day rally on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (PTI)

West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress president Mamata Banerjee will begin a two-month nationwide tour in November to shore up support for the party’s mega anti-BJP rally in Kolkata on January 19, 2019, said a senior member of the West Bengal cabinet who did not wish to be named.

Besides New Delhi, she will visit state capitals and interact with the top leaders of different regional parties after Durga Puja and Diwali festivities get over, he said.

“She will personally invite and persuade them to be present at the Kolkata rally. She has also prepared a list of leaders whom she would like to meet. Her priorities in the list are former Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav and his son Tejashwi Yadav, Samajwadi Party leader, Akhilesh Yadav, Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati and Telengana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao,” the minister said.

On Saturday, at the 25th year of Trinamool martyr’s day rally, Mamata Banerjee announced January 19 as the date for the anti-BJP rally in Kolkata. Later in the day, she also announced that she would invite top Congress leaders like Sonia Gandhi to be present at the rally. In response, the BJP has called a rally at the same venue on January 23 where Prime Minister, Narendra Modi will be the principal speaker.

“The clear instructions from the chief minister are to start preparations immediately after the festive season to make the anti-BJP rally a grand success. We will work according to her instructions and we are sure that majority of anti-BJP forces in the country and even leaders from some current NDA allies will accept her invitation and make their presence felt at the January 19 rally,” said state transport minister Suvendu Adhikari.

It is learnt that chief minister’s nephew and Trinamool Lok Sabha member, Abhishek Banerjee will be accompanying her during her meetings with the top leaders of different parties. “In some cases, Trinamool leader in Lok Sabha, Sudip Bandopadhyay and the party’s national spokesman and Rajya Sabha member, Derek O’Brien will accompany the chief minister,” said the member of state cabinet who preferred to remain anonymous.

He said that although chief minister had initially decided to invite CPI(M) leaders in the rally, this might not happen since top CPI(M) leaders including its national general secretary, Sitaram Yechury has ruled out possibilities of attending the rally.

During the time when Banerjee will be busy meeting national leaders of other parties, Trinamool secretary general and state education minister, Partha Chatterjee and the party’s general secretary, Subrata Bakshi will extensively tour Bengal to identify organizational loopholes and take corrective measures.

“On Saturday, chief minister has clearly said that in 2019 Trinamool will win in all the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state. It is our duty to fulfil her wish and work according to her instructions,” Chatterjee said.

Bengal’s panchayat and rural development minister, Subrata Mukherjee will also tour the state to monitor pending rural development projects and ensure their timely completion.

“Development is the slogan of Trinamool and we will not compromise on the development issue at any cost,” Mukherjee said.

The BJP which is trying to get a foothold in West Bengal sought to downplay the TMC’s mega rally plans. The party’s national secretary Rahul Sinha said that it was the combination of Banerjee’s ambition to become Prime Minister and her fear about the rise of the BJP in Bengal that has made the chief minister so desperate.

“Her dreams will remain dreams only. First she should concentrate on Bengal and then think of India,” he said.

First Published: Jul 22, 2018 17:07 IST