Mamata Banerjee’s anti-BJP rally Opposition leaders descend on Kolkata
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s anti-BJP “United India” rally at Brigade on Saturday will have representation from most non-NDA parties across the country, with leaders arriving in Kolkata on Friday for the big event.
Among the leaders who have confirmed that they would attend the anti-BJP rally are Sharad Pawar (NCP), Akhilesh Yadav (SP), Satish Mishra (BSP), Chandrababu Naidu (TDP), M K Stalin (DMK), H D Deve Gowda and his son H D Kumaraswamy (JD-S), Mallikarjun Kharge and Abhishek Manu Singhvi (Congress), Arvind Kejriwal (AAP), Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah (National Conference), Tejashwi Yadav (RJD), Hemant Soren (JMM) and Sharad Yadav (Loktantrik Janata Dal) besides BJP rebels Yashwant Sinha, Shatrugh Shatrughan Sinha and Arun Shourie. Most of them had arrived in Kolkata by Friday evening .
However, beyond the broad agreement that Narendra Modi’s government needs to be unseated, every party is anticipating the situation to be fluid for some time.
The ambivalence over the emerging opposition front was reflected in Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s decision not to attend the rally but send Kharge and Singhvi for the event. He wrote a letter to the West Bengal chief minister, saying: “I extend my support to Mamata di on this show of unity and hope we send a powerful message of a united India together.”
While the call for opposition unity has been given, there is no clarity on who will lead the front against Modi. This was inherent in Akhilesh’s remark soon after landing here. “Desh naye pradhan mantri ka intezaar kar raha hai (The country is waiting for a new Prime Minister),”Akhilesh Yadav , but refused to name the future PM.
Mamta Banerjee herself met all the leaders on Friday evening. Deve Gowda, who has run a Third Front government at the Centre, commended Banerjee’s efforts. “I would like to congratulate Madam Mamata Banerjee for the pains she has taken to bring opposition parties together,” said former Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Gegong Apang, who left BJP earlier this week. Calling Banerjee a “great leader”, Apang, who will also attend the Brigade rally, announced that he would float.
But the overwhelming response from the opposition parties at the national level contrasted with the opposition’s response in Banerjee’s own West Bengal, where the Left Front chose to stay away from Saturday’s rally despite their strong anti-BJP stance. Bengal state Congress president Somen Mitra said there was no question of attending the rally because he did not get an invite.
Both Biju Janata Dal and Telangana Rashtra Samithi will not be part of the rally as they don’t want to share dais with Congress. “We would stick to our policy of equi-distance from both the Congress and the BJP.
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