Kolkata: The stage is set for Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee-led mega anti-BJP rally, which is scheduled to be held at historic Brigade Parade ground in Kolkata on Saturday noon. The event, being touted as a bid to galvanise a federal front against the Narendra Modi government in a run up to the Lok Sabha Elections 2019, is likely to be attended by over 40 lakh people.
The event, which will be the Opposition’s show of strength, is likely to be attended by several leaders including former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha, Shatrughan Sinha and Arun Shourie; Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy; NCP leaders Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, among others. Most of them already arrived in the city on Friday, while others are expected to reach by Saturday morning.
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Meanwhile, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who is likely to skip the mega rally, extended his support to the TMC chief through a letter. “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,” he wrote in the letter. Notably, the party has deputed its leader in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, to represent it at the event.
On Friday, Kolkata turned into a fortress ahead of the mega event. While, a thick security blanket has been thrown on the sprawling Brigade Parade Ground to prevent any untoward incident, a large number of TMC volunteers are expected to remain present at the venue to take care of the supporters.
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.
Briefing about the preparations at the Brigade Parade Ground, a TMC leader earlier had said, “The venue will be divided into 22 zones to manage the massive gathering. In each zone, a deputy commissioner-rank officer of Kolkata Police will be present to monitor the security arrangements. Along with the police, 3,000 party volunteers will also be present at the meeting to man the crowd.”
In order to make the event a complete success, at least five stages with the iconic Victoria Memorial in the backdrop have been built at the venue. Besides, 20 watch towers have been erected and 1,000 microphones and 30 LED screens put up so that the spectators can see and hear the speeches of the leaders clearly.
All the five stages will have separate entrances and these would be guarded by around 15 teams of police officers, alongside commandos and other officers.
Furthermore, vehicular movement in and around the venue has been either restricted or directed. As a security measure, no food stall is allowed near the venue. Only water tanks are being allowed at a safe distance from the dais.
The VVIPs will be ferried to the venue in small cars whereas, designated parking lots have been developed for the supporters and spectators.