Trinamool says Opposition rally to be biggest in ‘post-Independence Bengal’
Trinamool Congress leaders involved in the preparation said 20 LCD screens will be installed on the rally ground for the January 19 event, in which over a million people are likely to attend.Updated: Jan 18, 2019 00:00 IST
With the coming Lok Sabha polls in mind, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) will hold a “show of Opposition unity” in Kolkata’s Brigade Parade Ground on January 19, party leaders said on Thursday, claiming that it will be the biggest rally in “post-Independence Bengal”.
“It will be a historic rally. Leaders of almost every opposition party will be present,” West Bengal chief minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee said, after reviewing preparations for the event. “Regional parties will be a deciding factor in the LS polls...Opposition rally in Kolkata will sound the death knell for the BJP which will not get more than 125 seats in the Lok Sabha elections,” she claimed.
Samajwadi Party (SP) national president Akhilesh Yadav, Bahujan Samaj Party’s SC Mishra, Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu, Congress’s Lok Sabha leader Mallikarjun Kharge and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief MK Stalin are among the leaders who confirmed their participation.
Akhilesh, who has skipped all meetings in the past aimed at forging Opposition unity against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, would participate in the rally, SP spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary confirmed.
Apart from them, National Conference leaders Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Karnataka chief minister and Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy, Tejashwi Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal have also confirmed their participation, TMC leaders said.
Former Union ministers Arun Shourie, Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha — all of whom had served in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s cabinet, but have been bitterly opposed to the Narendra Modi regime — and former Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Gegong Apang, who quit BJP earlier this week, will also attend the rally, TMC leaders said.
However, Left parties, including the Communist Party of India (Marxist), that are bitterly opposed to TMC will not attend the event. They have called a separate rally on the same grounds on February 3. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to address a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rally at Parade Ground on February 8.
Trinamool supporters have started arriving in Kolkata from Wednesday night, three days ahead of the rally. There will be 20 giant LCD screens on the rally ground. Bengal food minister Jyoti Priya Mallick said more than a million people are expected to attend the rally, claiming that it will be bigger than the 1977 one on the same ground that was attended by the likes of Jyoti Basu and Jayaprakash Narayan.
Political analysts are sceptical about such claims. “The biggest rally in Kolkata was the 1955 meeting at Brigade Ground where Jawaharlal Nehru felicitated Soviet leaders Nikita Khrushchev and Nikolai Bulganin. It was massive, spontaneous and unsurpassable,” said Amal Mukhopadhyay, political analyst and former principal of Presidency College.