Billed as the largest political event in West Bengal post-independence, a host of Opposition leaders will attend a political rally
“It will be a ‘United India Rally’ against the misrule of the BJP. It will sound the death knell for the BJP…The saffron party’s seat count in the general election will not cross 125. The number of seats the state parties will win will be much higher than that of the BJP’s,” Banerjee said on Thursday, adding, “On January 19, you will see a huge representation from all regions of the country. Heavy-weight national leaders, including a former prime minister and several ex-chief ministers, will attend the rally.”
Who is attending, and is Congress one of them?
Aimed to be a show of strength for Opposition forces, the rally will be held at the Brigade Parade ground in state capital Kolkata. Among the political heavyweights expected to attend and hold meetings with Banerjee on the sidelines of the rally are NCP chief Sharad Pawar, DMK president MK Stalin, JDS President HD Deve Gowda, Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy, Delhi CM
Senior Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Abhishek Manu Singhvi may also make an appearance. The Opposition had made similar shows of solidarity when Kumaraswamy, Ashok Gehlot, Kamal Nath
Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav, former Jharkhand Chief Minister and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) chief Babulal Marandi, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav, All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) chief Badruddin Ajmal, National Conference (NC) chief Farooq Abdullah and former Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah are also likely to attend, Banerjee is quoted as saying in an NDTV report.
Former BJP leaders Yashwant Sinha, Ram Jethmalani
Who is taking a rain check?
Besides senior Congress
Party sources last week said KC Rao turned down the invitation because he did not want to share the stage with Gandhi before he too expressed his wish to keep a distance from the event. This comes a year after Banerjee and Rao met in Kolkata to constitute a third federal front sans Congress, a cursory agreement which the TMC chief dissolved when she met him next on December 24.
With Congress being TRS’s main opposition in Telangana, Rao had announced his withdrawal from the Mahagathbandhan to media after the latest meeting, while his West Bengal counterpart, who is reportedly less keen on excluding the Congress in the proposed grand opposition alliance, refused to comment. It is also worth noting that KCR also visited Odisha to garner support for his anti-Congress anti-BJP front from the BJD, which recently announced it would not be aligning with either of the two national parties in the coming elections.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist), Banerjee’s longstanding political arch-rival in the state, will also not attend the rally along with leaders of other Left parties including Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan. Banerjee, however, said she had extended the invitation to all of them but hasn’t heard back.
The controversy over BJP’s rally
Last month, the West Bengal government denied permission for BJP’s rath
Banerjee had claimed to have been briefed by intelligence officials regarding possible communal violence that could break out in Coochbehar, a starting point of one of the three rallies, to justify her non-response and denial of permission.
As part of the election campaign, BJP chief Amit Shah was to travel to the state this month and inaugurate the party’s “Save Democracy Rally” on December 7, covering all the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal. Three rath
The Supreme Court on Christmas turned down an urgent hearing of BJP’s petition challenging the Calcutta High Court order which prohibited the party’s “rath yatras” in West Bengal.
Mamata’s goal and why it matters
A TMC leader told Hindustan Times that along with the police, 3,000 party volunteers will be present for crowd management. While 5 stages, 20 LED screens, and 1000 loudspeakers may not signify a great deal next to the BJP whose political campaigns and rallies often acquire a larger scale, it is certainly above and beyond the modesty that Bengal’s rallies are used to.
This drives home the point that larger things are at stake for Banerjee, who has long since eyed the prime ministerial candidacy. The event may serve as a launch pad for Banerjee’s campaign for the top office in New Delhi, many have claimed.
With the rally, Banerjee said she aims to send a warning and make a prediction for the NDA-led
While all these parties are in consensus about replacing the BJP-led NDA coalition with an oppositional alliance, the contours of who gets the PM ticket is not clear yet, and several including Banerjee and
Thus, it remains to be seen in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls will witness a historic triangular fight among the central parties and regional allies, also testing the power and prospects of a third federal alliance working in India’s political structure.
As Banerjee rightly said, “The federal parties, that is, the regional parties, will be the deciding factor after the elections.”
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.