NEWS / UNITED INDIA RALLY
KOLKATA: A bevy of regional leaders, old hats, and some second-line leaders of the Congress party participated in the “united India rally” organised at the sprawling Brigade Ground here on Saturday to firm up an anti-Modi, anti-BJP alliance at the national level at the instance of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
Bus and truck loads of TMC workers were ferried into the city from various parts of the state to make the rally a huge show of strength for the CM. As many as 20 parties across India were represented at the rally.
Referring to the Rafale deal, Shatrughan Sinha shouted at the top of his voice, “Chowkidar chor hai, chowkidar chor hai, chowkidar chor hai.”
AP chief minister Chandrababu Naidu said the BJP wanted to divide India, and “we want to unite India.”
Congress president Rahul Gandhi sent a message to Mamata Banerjee, wishing success for the rally. Sonia Gandhi too kept away from the rally, despite invitations to the two top Congress leaders.
In a message read out at the rally by Kharge, Sonia Gandhi said the nation was facing a serious crisis. “The crisis looms over farmers and at the borders. The fishermen are under loss and youths are unemployed. Our country is under a lot of stress. The upcoming Lok Sabha elections will not be an ordinary one. It will be an election to restore people’s faith in democracy. I wish all the success (to the Kolkata rally).”
Arvind Kejriwal said the Modi government was corrupt, and cited the Rafale purchase. He said he would organise a similar rally in Delhi soon, to take the idea of an Opposition alliance forward.
The meeting is seen as the West Bengal chief minister’s attempt to emerge as the focal point of the anti-BJP election fight for Lok Sabha this year, and to strengthen her case to be the next prime minister of the country. Significantly, another contender for the PM post, Mayawati from Uttar Pradesh kept off the meet. Banerjee is proposing an axis of regional parties to collectively stake the claim for PM post after the polls if the BJP or Congress fails to muster majority in the new Lok Sabha.
“I am not bothered as to who would become the PM, but what I want is the BJP to be removed from power,” Mamata Banerjee said at the rally. “PM targeted all of us. So, why would we not target him now? Everything changes. Weather also changes. So, why should not a government change?” Said she, “We will hold another rally in Brigade Grounds — that is, after we win the Lok Sabha polls.”
She also said the BJP will be wiped out of West Bengal, where it now has two of the total 42 seats.
In retaliation, Prime Minister Modi has been quoted as saying at a BJP rally in Silvassa, “One BJP has given sleepless nights to all the regional leaders. They are crying for help and shouting from Kolkata, ‘bachao, bachao’. ” Silvassa is a town in the Union Territory of Dadra Nagar Haveli, bordering Gujarat in Western India. ==IHN-NN
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