RaGa writes to TMC chief; Opp leaders to take part in show of strength today
As West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee prepared to hold a massive show of strength on Saturday, which will be attended by a galaxy of major Opposition leaders, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday wrote to her hailing the TMC chief’s initiative to unite India against the BJP.
The Congress president wrote, “I extend my support to Mamata Di on this show of unity and hope that we send a powerful message of a united India together.” Saying that there were “powerful forces afoot” angry with the Narendra Modi Government for peddling false promises, Rahul wrote these “forces are fanned by anger and disappointment of hundreds of millions Indians who have seen through the false promises and lies peddled by the Modi Government.”
Rahul’s letter came at a time when political who’s who from all over the country including former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, former UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and NCP chief Sharad Yadav had started landing in Kolkata.
On united Opposition against the BJP, the Congress president wrote, “The entire Opposition is united in our belief that true nationalism and development can only be defended on the tested pillars of democracy, social justice and secularism, ideas that the BJP and Modi are intent on destroying.”
While neither Sonia Gandhi nor Rahul would be joining the rally, the Congress will be represented by the party’s Leader in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge. His presence and Rahul’s letter tends to neutralise BJP’s argument that Mamata’s much-hyped Brigade rally lacked the backing of the second biggest party of India indicating at the schism within the much touted Opposition unity.
Rahul’s support apart, Deve Gowda too praised Mamata for taking the “grand initiative to bring the entire Opposition together against the Modi Government. She is a hardworking leader and her endeavour will bring success,” Gowda said after landing in Kolkata.
Congratulating the Chief Minister for bringing the whole India to Kolkata, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said, “Mamata Didi has sent a message by bringing all leaders to Kolkata.
Every segment of the society is unhappy with the Modi Government and time has come for a new Prime Minister for the country.”
Former Arunachal Chief Minister Gegong Apang who left BJP a couple of days ago said, “Mamata is a great leader and we all have come here to support her initiative.”
Meanwhile, stage is set for the expected record-breaking rally even as thousands of TMC cadres poured in from districts. Kolkata prepared for a historic Brigade rally that according to a rough ruling party estimate break the Left Front record by assembling no less than 30 lakh people sources said.
By Thursday late-noon a galaxy of politicians had landed in Kolkata led by former HD Deve Gowda, NCP chief Sharada Pawar, Gegong Apang, Akhilesh Yadav. Mamata had on Thursday said that leaders of about 20 Opposition parties would be coming to join the “Mahagathbandhan rally against the BJP’s misrule.”
Apart from those who had already landed in Kolkata, others who were expected to join the rally are Karnataka Chief Minister Kumaraswami, his Andhra Pradesh counterpart N Chandrababu Naidu, National Conference leaders Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, DMK leader Stalin and BSP leader Amit Mishra, Mamata said.
BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha and Yashwant Sinha were also likely to join the rally.
The immensity of the rally could be gauged from the 100-feet long stage and four other mini-stages to accommodate other dignitaries. In a symbolic statement the ambience of the rally ground is being kept “absolutely party-neutral and federal,” a senior Trinamool Congress leader said adding the backdrop of the 100-feet stage will show a huge cutout of India with no picture of any leader and not even Mamata Banerjee gracing it.
According to past records, the Brigade Parade Ground has a maximum capacity of 12-14 lakhs. If the crowd surpasses that figure “which we expect it to do then the processions will be stopped midway, sources said adding “for those who would not be able to come to the ground will be able to watch the leaders speak on giant screens fixed at about 20 points across the city.