Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee kick-started the mega rally at Kolkata’s Brigade Parade Ground on Saturday. The crowd have started gathering and political leaders from all corners of the country have joined the WB CM to rally against BJP and RSS.
The first to reach Kolkata ahead of the rally was- Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief MK Stalin, former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Shourie, Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) chief Sharad Yadav and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) head Sharad Pawar.
At least 25 top political leaders are expected to grace the event — touted as the “United India Rally” — aimed at overthrowing the Narendra Modi-led BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Earlier on Friday, Banerjee met the key opposition leaders including SP Chief Akhilesh Yadav, DMK president MK Stalin, former prime minister Deve Gowda, and TDP Chief Chandrababu Naidu.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi will be unable to attend the event. However, the party has sent senior Congress leaders like Mallikarjun Kharge and Abhishek Manu Singhvi to maintain Congress’ presence.
There are a total of five stages in Banerjee’s event today. The first stage is the main stage, which will come up in front of the fountain opposite the Victoria Memorial Hall and will accommodate senior leaders including the TMC Chief herself.
The second and the third stage will be for the MPs and State Government ministers respectively and the other for the district presidents and functionaries. While the fourth and fifth stage are from the cultural world and another on which cultural programmes will be held.
The stage is all set for the Mahagathbandhan mega rally in Kolkata today. The rally will begin at 12 noon at the Brigade Parage Grounds. TMC chief Mamata Banerjee is to speak at PM.
This mega rally assumes significance as the TMC is trying to project Banerjee as the potential prime ministerial candidate.
The traffic movement has been suspended on certain roads and dedicated corridors for VVIPs have been put in place. TMC is saying all most 40 lakh people will attend the rally. While the strength of the Brigade Parade Grounds is close to 20 lakh.
Meanwhile, Banerjee in a bid to unite anti-BJP parties ahead of Lok Sabha elections had said she’ll let other regional leaders take the spotlight during the mega opposition rally thus taking the backseat herself. Calling the non-BJP leaders her guests, Banerjee said, “Let the leaders coming from other states address the nation from here and shape the Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance). I will listen to them and not impose my opinion.”
“Every party has its own compulsions, vision and philosophy. We respect all of them. As far as the Congress is concerned, I cannot predict how many seats they will win, but the BJP will not cross the 125 mark,” she added.
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief further said that the rally will serve as a platform for the pan-India fight against the BJP. Heavy security arrangements have been put in place to avoid any untoward incident, As many as 10,000 police personnel have been deployed and around 400 police pickets set up to ensure foolproof security. Policemen in plain clothes, personnel of the Rapid Action Force and Quick Response Team would also keep a tight vigil at the venue.