Kolkata: It was a sea of people coming in never-ending streams from across West Bengal that filled the Brigade Parade ground in Kolkata on Sunday morning. By 1 p.m, more than a million people had descended on the roughly 1,400-acre Kolkata Maidan, backing a third front against the Trinamool Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party and marking a triangular fight in the upcoming elections in the state.
The Brigade rally was colourful and with red flags flying everywhere, lakhs of Left Front activists and supporters in red T-shirts and caps, alongside a sizeable presence of green and blue flags of the Indian Secular Front (ISF); the tricolour of the Congress too flew in pockets throughout the crowd. People held their party flags high up and shouted slogans for the just construed Sangjukta Morcha--the secular, democratic front formed by the Left Front, Congress and ISF.
Despite the scorching sun, people who had travelled in buses and trains for hours to reach the venue, cheered and applauded at the high octane speeches of Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Mohd Salim, ISF head Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui, Congress leader Adhir Chowdhury and CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury.
Left Front chairman Biman Basu presided over the rally and in his speech he hailed the rally as one of the ‘record-setting’ gatherings at the Brigade Parade ground. In the beginning, many people were not able to enter the Brigade Parade ground due to the lack of space and were seen sitting under shades of nearby trees bordering the edge of the ground.
Young ISF leader Abbas Siddiqui sent ripples through the crowd, especially his supporters, with his high-voltage speech, climaxing in a threat to bring the TMC to ‘zero’. He also thanked the Left Front for giving him 30 seats in the Assembly elections, while showing a possible discord with Congress, the other alliance partner. “With Congress, I don’t have that partnership but I will tell my boys to give their 100 wherever left has got candidates,” he told in the rally. “Defeat both BJP and TMC by any means,” he urged the crowd.
Not Looters But Pro-people Govt, Says Yechury
In his speech, Yechury said: “Na lootpat ka sarkar, na jaatpaat ka sarkar, Bangal ke awam ka pukar hain, hume chahiye janhit ka sarkar (Not a looters’ government or a communal and casteist government, Bengal’s mass wants a government that would work in peoples interest).” He asserted that the Sanjukta Morcha government will provide that to the people.
“Coming to power in Gujarat, Narendra Modi has dedicated a stadium to his own name with two ends of the stadium as Ambani End and Adani End. They care only for riches,” he said. Reminding the promises that Modi had made of 2 crore jobs and Rs 15 lakh in every account, Yechury said the major problems at present were unemployment, inflation and Covid-19.
He also quipped that in case of a hung Assembly, Mamata Banerjee, with her earlier track record of bonhomie with BJP, will arrange an understanding with the saffron party. He also welcomed the formation of Sanyukta Morcha by the Left, Congress and ISF to fight the Assembly elections just like another Samyukta Morcha of farmers is leading the anti-farm laws agitation in Delhi.
Peoples Unity Important, Says Mishra
CPI(M) State Secretary Suryakanta Mishra highlighted that the TMC-BJP binary being showed in the media was an extension of corporate desires to direct the politics of the state. “Our alternative is a pro-people alternative, which will fulfil all the vacant four lakh positions in the government service within one year,” he said.
He said that the unity of the political parties was not enough but “it is the people’s unity which is the last word and the guiding force behind the front.” He added that in the interest of the working class people, change in the government of the state should occur.
Mishra further said, “The minority and backward classes and castes and tribals make 71% of our population and the reactionary forces have used divisive tactics to break the unity of people of the state. If voted to power, we will start investing in agriculture, food security and provide free education and health.”
CPI leader D Raja and CPI State secretary Swapan Banerjee also spoke in the rally as well as Manoj Bhattacharya general secretary of Revolutionary Socialist Party. Forward Block State secretary Narenn Chattopadhyay too addressed the rally. “Uproot the TMC government and throw them in the Bay of Bengal. Show BJP that this is Bengal, Hindu-Muslim politics does not work here,” Swapan Banerjee said.
Political DNAs of Modi and Mamata Same: Adhir Chowdhury
Speaking in the rally, state Congress C president Adhir Chowdhury said both TMC and BJP would face extinction and tough days were ahead for both the ruling parties at the state and the Centre. Underlining the alliance’s claim that TMC and BJP were hands in gloves, he said that the political DNAs of Both Modi and Mamata were the same.
RSS Helped British, Says Bhupesh Baghel
Bhupesh Bhagel, Chief Minister of Chattisgarh and Congress leader, addressed the rally and highlighted that his government has announced a minimum support price of Rs 10,000 for paddy and has withdrawn tax on petrol and diesel by Rs 12 and Rs 4 respectively to help people. He said, “The Sanjukta Morcha leadership sitting on the stage are the real legacy of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, and no matter how much PM Modi talks about Bose, he cannot overcome the fact that the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) under Shyamaprasad Mukherjee did not take part in the freedom struggle when Netaji was in his military boots.”