Mamata Banerjee’s mega rally for a grand alliance of opposition parties is today at noon on Kolkata’s Brigade Parade Ground.
The Trinamool Congress has claimed that around 40 lakh people will attend the event, which will bring political parties from across the country on a single anti-BJP stage.
Kolkata’s Brigade Parade Ground is all set to host Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee‘s mega rally for a grand alliance of opposition parties this noon, with political leaders from all corners of the country joining in.
Among the first to make an appearance were Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav, DMK chief MK Stalin, former BJP leader Arun Shourie, Loktantrik Janata Dal chief Sharad Yadav and Nationalist Congress Party head Sharad Pawar.
At least 25 top political leaders are expected to occupy the stage at the event — called the “United India Rally” — aimed at uniting various political parties against the Narendra Modi-led BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Ms. Banerjee, also the Bengal chief minister, spent several hours on Friday interacting with visiting political leaders put up at various hotels across the city.
In 1992, Mamata Banerjee had held a meeting at the same venue – Brigade Parade Grounds — and had used the term ‘death knell’ for the Left Front-led ruling party in Bengal. Several years later, she dethroned the Left and formed a government in 2011.
Only few hours to go for the historic 'United India Rally' at Brigade Parade Grounds. I welcome all national leaders, supporters and lakhs of people to participate in today's rally to pledge to build a stronger, progressive and united India #UnitedIndiaAtBrigade
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) January 19, 2019
This time around, she has once again used the term ‘death knell’, now for the BJP.
She had, a day earlier, said that the end of the BJP has begun and that the party will not get more than 125 seats in the upcoming polls.
Leaders of over 20 opposition parties are expected to attend the rally at the iconic Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata on Saturday to vow to put up a united fight against the ruling government.
Why Brigade Parade Grounds?
This has been the traditional venue for the Left Front parties’ annual congregation where hundreds and thousands of Left supporters gather. However, over the years, the numbers have been reduced to a dwindling thousand.
Not many political parties hold meetings at this one of the largest grounds in Eastern India fearing they might not be able to fill up the entire ground which can accommodate close to 15-17 lakh people.
But, Mamata has said more than 15 lakh people are expected to join the rally.
On the other hand, massive security arrangements are in place. Under the charge of DGP Wireless Department, a team has been formed with officers from Special Branch, Anti-Rowdy Squad and Special Task Force. They will look after the entire security arrangements for the VVIPs.
As many as 7,000 police personnel from Kolkata Police have been deployed who will be on duty round the clock. A control room has also been set up.
This apart, a dedicated corridor has been prepared for the VVIPs from the hotel to the venue.
10 Points that you should remember for this mega story
- “Only few hours to go for the historic ‘United India Rally’ at Brigade Parade Grounds, I welcome all national leaders, supporters and lakhs of people to participate in today’s rally to pledge to build a stronger, progressive and united India,” Mamata Banerjee tweeted this morning.
- Although Congress president Rahul Gandhi is unlikely to turn up, he expressed his support for the rally in a letter to Mamata Banerjee early on Friday morning. Two Congress leaders — Mallikarjun Kharge and Abhishek Manu Singhvi — will come in his stead.
- Among the other leaders attending the event are Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav.
- According to police, the Brigade Parade Ground can hold around seven lakh people. However, the Trinamool Congress has claimed that 40 lakh people will attend what could well be the biggest political rally of the century.
- Hundreds of Trinamool workers had been toiling for the last few weeks to set up five massive stages with the iconic Victoria Memorial in the background, 20 LED screens and scores of Trinamool Congress flags fluttering in the breeze.
- As part of the security arrangements, the venue will be divided into 22 zones to manage the massive gathering. Police officers of the deputy commissioner rank, besides 3,000 party voluntees, will be present at each such zone to man the crowds.
- The “United India Rally” is seen by many as an attempt to portray Ms Banerjee as a leader who can rally secular forces against the BJP and emerge as a potential challenger to PM Modi. The Trinamool Congress has taken pains to project her as the next Prime Minister of the country.
- The Trinamool chief had been at the forefront of talks for an alliance between major regional parties and the Congress, until new power equations developed after the latter beat the ruling BJP in three Hindi heartland states late last year. However, this rally may succeed in rectifying that.
- The Congress, on the other hand, repeatedly claims that it has not declared Mr Gandhi as its prime ministerial face. It says that the onus lies in ousting the BJP, not pursuing a place in the country’s corridors of power.
- The BJP has downplayed the mega rally. “Leaders who are retired, tired or rejected in their own states are coming to attend Saturday’s event,” said Bengal party Chief Dilip Ghosh. The BJP also plans to hold a rally headlined by PM Modi at the Brigade Parade Ground on February 8.
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