'Entire Opposition Is United,' Rahul Tells Mamata on Eve of Grand Anti-BJP Rally

The West Bengal chief minister has brought together an impressive array of regional and national leaders for tomorrow’s United India rally in the heart of Kolkata.

New Delhi: A day ahead of the mega opposition rally in Kolkata, Congress president Rahul Gandhi has declared his party’s unequivocal support to the anti-Bharatiya Janata Party mobilisation.

“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,” Gandhi’s letter to West Bengal’s Trinamool Congress chief minister said.

“The entire opposition is united in our belief that true nationalism and development can only be defended on the tested pillars of democracy, social justice and secularism, ideas that the BJP and Mr Modi (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) are intent on destroying,” he added.

Though Rahul and Sonia Gandhi will not be at the rally, the Congress is sending two of its top leaders – Mallikarjun Kharge (leader of opposition in Lok Sabha) and Abhishek Manu Singhvi – to attend.

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Banerjee, the main architect of the anti-BJP show, has managed to put together an impressive line-up of opposition leaders who are attending tomorrow’s rally. The list includes former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, his son and Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah, former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), a key played in the anti-BJP coalition too, has lent its support to the TMC-sponsored rally. Though BSP chief Mayawati will not be present at the rally, her senior lieutenant Satish Mishra will represent the party.

Political analysts believe Banerjee, who has steered her party through two consecutive victories in Bengal’s assembly polls, now has her sights set on the top job at the Centre. It’s interesting to note in this context that the Trinamool Congress chief taken to describing tomorrow’s event as “United India rally” – shifting from her earlier espousal of a federal front.

The political line-up at tomorrow’s rally brings to mind the formation of the United Front, a large conglomerate of regional leaders from across India, in 1996. Following a fractured mandate in the general elections that year, the entire opposition came together to keep the BJP out of power at the Centre. Their efforts led to the installation of the Deve Gowda-led third front government, which was supported by the Congress from the outside.

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The political scenario since, however, has undergone dramatic transformation. Noticeable in the altered scenario is the absence of the Left Front – particularly the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) – then playing the role Banerjee has currently taken upon herself. She has set herself up as the architect rallying together disparate regional forces which, notwithstanding their differences in ideology and political stance, are in the process of coalescing with the primary aim to stall the BJP’s ascendancy to power for a second consecutive term.

The CPI-M, which no longer has the clout it had in the 1990s, has chosen to tar both the BJP and the TMC with the same brush. The party continues to maintain that BJP and TMC represent the two poles of communalism. The CPI-M, in the recent past, has frequently accused Banerjee of promoting “appeasement politics”.